MADISON – A new report shows that since 2004, biopharmaceutical research companies have conducted or are conducting more than 3,700 clinical trials of new medicines in Wisconsin in collaboration with local clinical research centers and hospitals. The new Research in Your Backyard: Developing Cures, Creating Jobs report was released on June 22 during an event hosted by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and was compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). The report illustrates how important biopharmaceutical research companies are to the economy and patient health in Wisconsin.
“Throughout the pandemic, many of us learned for the first time about clinical trials as we eagerly awaited the FDA approval of and emergency use authorizations for these new COVID-19 medications and vaccines,” noted Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu who keynoted the event. “Before the pandemic, some of us may never have thought about how our medications make their way from the lab to the pharmacy counter. And yet others think about it regularly as they await the next treatment or cure for their medical condition.”
Clinical trials are research studies in patients and include studies that generate data to support the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new medicine. Patients that volunteer for clinical studies have early access to new potential treatment options while also receiving the best possible care. According to Research in Your Backyard there are currently 489 clinical trials actively recruiting patients in Wisconsin; of those, 321 are for some of the most debilitating chronic diseases, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disease.
“There are many perceived and practical barriers to getting patients enrolled in clinical trials. As a result, only 8% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. It is essential for all stakeholders involved in this process to cooperate in reducing these structural, clinical and attitudinal barriers,” said Paul Westrick, cancer survivor and former clinical trial participant. “This is the only way to advance the discovery of cures, accelerate improvements in treatment options and improve the quantity and quality of life for patients.”
Patients are not the only beneficiaries of clinical research in Wisconsin. According to a 2017 TEConomy Partners study, the biopharmaceutical industry supports more than 51,000 jobs across the state. Additionally, the wages and benefits for employees in these jobs resulted in $697 million in state and federal taxes paid. The jobs supported by the industry are wide ranging, including everything from science researchers and engineers to administrative support workers, sales representatives, and architects.
“The impact of clinical trials goes far beyond the healthcare industry,” said Kurt Bauer, President & CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. “What is often overlooked is their stimulating effect on the economy. Each year, clinical trials lead to the investment of millions of dollars in our communities and create well-paying jobs for various skill levels. There is no doubt that they benefit everyone, not just the participants.”
In Wisconsin, biopharmaceutical research companies are collaborating on clinical trials with prominent institutions across the state, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Spaulding Clinical, and Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences, to name just a few. In fact, there are 489 open clinical trials involving the biopharmaceutical research industry, and the Medical College of Wisconsin alone is collaborating on more than 162 of those trials.
“Clinical trials are a bedrock of medical innovation. Every trial gets us one step closer to bringing effective tests and treatments to patients,” said Laura Strong, with the Clinical Trials Education Network of Wisconsin. “Furthermore, they give patients access to some of the highest quality care that our healthcare system has to offer.”
Biopharmaceutical research is improving life in Wisconsin, both economically by supporting high-paying technical jobs, and by providing better health outcomes to patients participating in clinical trials.