Pharma and Biotech companies investing in R&D (Part 1 of 3)

March 23, 2011 § 1 Comment

High-throughput science a new emphasis for investment, and future

Big Pharma and biotech companies need each other in order to make the necessary advancements in medicine. Biotech has the brainpower and the entrepreneurial spirit to pursue new ideas, while Big Pharma has the financial and manufacturing resources to market a new drug and to produce it in mass numbers. Biopharmaceutical research companies in the United States invested a record $67.4 billion last year in the research and development of new medicines and vaccines – an increase of $1.5 billion from 2009.  Some of that research and development went into high-throughput science and technologies, a science driven by robotics and high-throughput instrumentation such as microarrays, microscopy, mass spectrometry and next generation sequencing.

An example of such collaboration on high-throughput sciences is a new partnership between RainDance Technologies and Ambry Genetics. Their new collaboration effort will focus on the development and commercialization of a comprehensive drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) genetic screening panel for use on next-generation sequencing (NGS) systems. In recent years, Big Pharma and biotech companies have been performing ADME screenings earlier in an effort to reduce the significant costs associated with failed drug trials and hospitalizations due to adverse events. Scientific studies indicate that more effective indicators of atypical drug metabolism and molecular pharmacology could help reduce hospitalizations associated with adverse drug events by 50 percent or more.

Although the budget for the sciences may still hang in the balance, the budget for the National Institutes for Health rose $32.1 billion for this past fiscal year, up 3.2 percent from the 2010 budget approved by Congress and signed by Obama. That budget focused on five strategic priorities: applying genomics and other high-throughput technologies; translating basic science discoveries into new and better treatments and diagnostics; using science to enable health care reform; global health; and reinvigorating and empowering the biomedical research community. Continued scientific investment from the federal government is critical, as U.S.-based biopharmaceutical research does not just lead to tomorrow’s new medicines (hence “winning the future”)– it also supports jobs today.

According to a recent study conducted by Archstone Consulting, roughly 655,000 people in the U.S. worked for America’s biopharmaceutical research companies in 2008 (the most recent year that data were available). Importantly, each of those jobs supported 3.7 additional jobs, with a total of nearly 3.1 million jobs supported by the sector. This is great news considering the unemployment that exists today in this country, and the difficulty of finding a quality researcher or scientist.

One way that biopharmaceutical research companies support additional jobs is through the collaborative research ecosystem that helps America maintain its place as the global leader in worldwide medical innovation. One of those collaborative research ecosystems is iAMscientist, where leaders from all over the world in science, medicine, technology, and engineering can come together to conduct research, like biopharmaceutical research, to solve some of society’s biggest problems.


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