NC leads nation in pharma development

Study shows more than 700 clinical trials have been conducted in the state since 2004.

GREENVILLE — Before drugs can be prescribed by a doctor or sold over the counter at local pharmacies, researchers, doctors and the federal government must have an adequate understanding of the medicine, how it can be used, how it treats a condition, what possible side effects could be caused, and its rate of success and failure.

This is where clinical trials are deemed necessary.

A new report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) found that biopharmaceutical research companies are or have conducted more than 700 clinical trials of new medicines in eastern North Carolina since 2004 which places one-third of North Carolina on the forefront of new research and development in the United States.

In addition, the life science industry powers North Carolina’s economy, supporting 259,000 jobs and generating $77.6 billion in economic activity.

“North Carolina is a global life science leader and eastern North Carolina, led by East Carolina University, is playing an ever-increasing role in the R&D and testing needed to bring these new products to market,” said Mark Phillips, NCBiotech vice president of statewide operations and executive director of the eastern office. “NCBiotech is committed to leading this transformational endeavor.”

The PhRMA report, “Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Eastern North Carolina,” notes that clinical trials in eastern N.C. are a vital part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process.

“North Carolina has a longstanding commitment to strengthening the life sciences industry, which is evidenced by the innovative research and development happening right here in Eastern North Carolina,” said Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), co-chair of the N.C. Legislative Life Sciences Caucus. “Collaboration between the industry and legislators is vital as we continue to drive biopharmaceutical research and innovation at our universities and across the state.”

Since 2004, 715 clinical trials in eastern North Carolina have targeted diseases and conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. The trials provide critical data that the FDA uses to determine new drug approvals of breakthrough medicines. Participating in a clinical trial is a volunteer process chosen by the patient and allows for him or her to not only have an active role in their health care but also be part of the process toward finding new treatments and cures.

East Carolina University and the Brody School of Medicine are two entities where research and clinical trials are playing a vital role in furthering medical advancement in eastern North Carolina.

“As a pediatric oncologist at East Carolina University, I am proud to be a part of Children’s Oncology Group, a network of providers and centers that conduct research and clinical trials to ensure our patients are provided with the most advanced treatment options,” said Dr.Beng Fuh, pediatric oncologist at East Carolina University. “This way we can improve outcomes and decrease the suffering of our children with cancer and provide their families with hope.”

PhRMA is an innovative biopharmaceutical research company, devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $600 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $65.5 billion in 2016.