Our vendor and supplier mapping project illustrates the biopharmaceutical industry's investment in our state economies and in the health of the patients we serve.
WA at a Glance
Welcome to We Work For Health Washington. We’re dedicated to promoting the economic benefits of life science business and research for Washington State and patients around the world. We Work For Health seeks to educate our elected leaders, the news media and the communities they serve about these key contributions of the life science sector in our state.
- Governors Clinical Trial ForumSeptember 23, 2013
Governors Jay Inslee (WA), Steve Bullock (MT) and Dannel Malloy (CT) joined leadership from We Work for Health, PhRMA, ZymoGenetics, Benaroya Research Institute and Seattle Genetics for a panel discussion on the important role of clinical trials in developing the next generation of life-saving biopharmaceuticals. The conversation focused on the benefits to patients participating in clinical trials as well as the economic benefits to communities that host trials.
- 2013 We Work For Health Co-Chair SummitJuly 17, 2013
Co-chairs from We Work For Health chapters from around the country traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet and discuss the important role that the biopharmaceutical, biotechnology and biomedical sectors play in the United States’ economy and its citizens’ lives.
February 23, 2014
By BJ Cavnor
Ten years ago last month, Congress created a Medicare prescription drug benefit that has quietly revolutionized the pharmaceutical sector.
Medicare Part D provides access to medicines that improve patient outcomes. It's bending down our country's health care cost curve. And the drug program helps fuel the research behind tomorrow's breakthroughs. Policymakers should see to it that Washington's residents continue to reap the many benefits of Part D.
Medicare Part D's results have been impressive. Today, 9 in 10 American seniors have comprehensive prescription coverage. Expenses for both seniors and taxpayers are remarkably low: The program has cost 45 percent less than originally anticipated, and the average monthly premium paid by seniors here in Washington is about $58.
Over 90 percent of Part D policyholders are pleased with their coverage. Few health care programs garner such high levels of satisfaction.
And Medicare Part D helps reduce health care spending overall by improving seniors' well-being. In many cases, prescription medications mitigate conditions that require costly inpatient or physician-administered therapies. Researchers at Harvard have confirmed that patients who gain drug coverage save $1,200 annually in total health spending.
Part D also propels further pharmaceutical advancements that make it possible for Washingtonians to live longer and healthier lives. Since 1950, Americans' average life expectancy has grown by a decade — and it continues to climb upwards. Cutting-edge therapies are helping more and more Americans survive deadly diseases.
Consider cancer: The life expectancy of a cancer patient today is three years higher than it was in 1980. And with nearly 1,000 new cancer treatments currently in development, the options for patients — and the chances of successful recovery — continue to increase.
HIV/AIDS is no longer a terminal illness; a 20-year-old diagnosed with the disease can expect to live an additional 50 years. HIV/AIDS death rates have fallen 79 percent since 1995. Americans' cholesterol levels are down. Fatalities from heart disease fell by 30 percent between 2001 and 2011.
Perhaps the greatest advance in pharmaceutical medicine in the past year is the approval of two new medications to cure hepatitis C, with another in development. There are an estimated 3.2 million Americans living with hepatitis C, the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States. These new medications may cure up to 90 percent of patients.
This incredible progress is directly attributable to advances in pharmaceutical research and expanded access to the drugs these breakthroughs make possible. And there's a great deal more innovation to come.
Here in Washington, more than 3,600 clinical trials have taken place in our state's hospitals, medical schools, and research centers since 1999. Nationwide there are 3,400 medicines currently in development. Over 400 of these new drugs are focused on the leading chronic diseases affecting seniors, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and arthritis.
That's good news for patient health and economic growth. When left untreated, chronic conditions can cost as much as a trillion dollars a year by one estimate. And no dollar amount can calculate the cost in suffering from a chronic disease for a patient and their loved ones.
Researchers are working especially hard in developing a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The condition currently affects some 5 million seniors — a number that could triple by 2050 — and accounts for $200 billion in direct medical costs each year. Over 15 million Americans provide more than $200 billion in unpaid care. These costs of care take a tremendous toll on families providing for patients.
Our best defense against illness is prevention, but with the diagnosis of disease, we need new and more effective medications. In Medicare Part D's 10 years, the gains from pharmaceutical innovation — in Washington and across the country — have been nothing short of staggering. Seniors have access to cutting-edge medicines that are saving lives and controlling costs. By keeping Part D strong, we can accomplish even more in the next 10 years.
BJ Cavnor is executive director of One in Four Chronic Health.
October 15, 2013
By H. Stewart Parker
Across Washington, vaccination campaigns are improving residents’ well-being.
Just five years ago, our state’s kindergartners were the least vaccinated in the country, with a vaccine opt-out rate of 7.6 percent. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control, that number has fallen to just 4.6 percent, a trend that is likely behind the recent decline in whooping cough cases.
But while the health benefits of vaccines are widely recognized, the economic significance of these treatments is just now becoming apparent. In the next few years, advances in vaccines will help reduce health-care costs while creating countless new jobs. Our state could find itself at the center of this medical and economic revolution — but only if state leaders continue to support policies that make Washington a welcome place for medical innovation.
Vaccines are currently one of the most exciting areas of medical research. Some 271 new vaccines are in development for treating or preventing everything from malaria and HIV/AIDS to cancer. Aside from their obvious medical benefits, these new vaccines will have a sizeable effect on our economy; averting disease helps keep Americans out of the hospital and soaring health-care costs in check.
This relationship between medical innovation and health-care costs has been seen most obviously in the field of cancer research. University of Chicago economists have found that reducing cancer death rates by 10 percent could produce as much as $4.4 trillion in economic benefits.
What does cancer research have to with vaccines? Quite a bit, it turns out. Many of the vaccines currently in the development pipeline are intended for the treatment of cancer. Unlike traditional vaccines, which prevent illness, cancer vaccines help patients fight off their disease once it’s already developed.
Researchers are working on vaccines for treating breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, among many other forms of the illness. And our state is already a significant contributor to this groundswell of breakthroughs. Seattle-based Dendreon recently released a vaccine for those with prostate cancer. Other pharmaceutical companies with an office or operations in Washington — such as Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda — have been behind some of the field’s most impressive developments.
Dozens of new vaccines are also being tested for the treatment of infectious diseases. Much like cancer medicines, treatments for this category of illness have an impressive record of reducing health spending.
The eradication of smallpox in 1977 is estimated to save $300 million a year. Every dollar spent on the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, meanwhile, is thought to save $21 in medical costs. And every dollar spent on the humble flu shot prevents another $2 in related spending.
Tomorrow’s infectious disease vaccines are also likely to carry impressive economic benefits. Consider malaria, a disease for which five new vaccines are in development. As Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs has noted, countries with a high malaria rates have income levels that are only a third of countries where the illness is less prevalent. Advances in preventing malaria, therefore, could go a long way towards lifting developing nations out of poverty. Potential vaccinations for the Ebola virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, typhoid and cholera could have similar effects.
Washingtonians are especially well situated to gain from this medical renaissance, as pharmaceutical research is already a vital part of our state economy. Bioscience firms support more than 45,000 Washington jobs that, altogether, pay Evergreen Staters $1.1 billion in compensation. The sector is also a significant source of state revenue, generating nearly $200 million in taxes each year. If Washington continues to be a leader in the creation of new vaccines, our economy will be all the stronger for it.
However, we can’t take this wave of innovation for granted. Our state is currently one of the best places in the nation to conduct biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, largely because of tax incentives designed to encourage investment in these fields. But, on average, the development of a new drug costs $1.3 billion and takes 10 to 15 years of research and development.
Given this enormous expense, state leaders need to support policies that make it easier and more cost-effective for firms to carry out their research here in Washington.
Washingtonians should be proud that our state is on the vanguard of vaccine innovation. Let’s fight to make sure it stays that way. Our lives — and our economy — may depend on it.
H. Stewart Parker is CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle.
By Chris Rivera
Special to The Times
THE future of Washington state’s economy lies in technology. According to a new report from the Washington Roundtable, an extraordinary 5,000 high-tech jobs are expected to open up locally every year over the foreseeable future.
A big reason for the Evergreen State’s technology-driven economy is biotechnology — an industry on the cusp of producing a historic abundance of new advanced medicines. This fast-approaching deluge of biotech innovation won’t just produce a wealth of lifesaving medicines. It will also generate the kind of sustained growth and job creation that our state so badly needs.
Realizing this prosperous future, however, will require federal lawmakers to protect the incentives that enable Washington’s biotech giants to invest in new research lines.
Over the past decade, we have seen revolutionary new treatments for illnesses like hemophilia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer. These drugs have changed the landscape of medical technology.
According to a new report, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are currently developing more than 900 different biotechnology medicines to treat more than 100 diseases ranging from asthma to leukemia.
Washington — where the Department of Commerce’s motto reads “Innovation is in our nature” — is well placed to benefit from this biotech boom. According to National Science Foundation data, more than 14 percent of Washington residents are employed in high-tech industries — some 25 percent higher than the national average.
In our state, life-sciences research and business directly support more than 35,500 local jobs, and indirectly support another 57,000, creating an overall employment impact of nearly 91,000 jobs. In 2010, life sciences in Washington state created $10.4 billion of gross domestic product and $6.6 billion in personal income.
But biopharmaceutical breakthroughs don’t happen overnight. In fact, developing these medicines is a costly, time-intensive process. Researchers at Tufts University estimate that it requires, on average, more than a decade for a new biotech treatment to wind its way through the development pipeline and onto the market. This lengthy ordeal can easily cost more than a billion dollars.
Policymakers play a significant role in continued medical innovation. Ill-conceived reform could destroy the delicate incentive scheme that encourages investment in new biotech medicines.
Leaders in Washington, D.C., are currently considering several such reforms. The first would reduce the length of the “data protection” period granted to innovative biotech firms.
Currently, biologic producers that create a brand new drug are given a 12-year period during which other firms are prohibited from releasing competing products onto the market. This window of time incentivizes biotech companies to invest in new research lines while also allowing low-cost, non-brand biologics to eventually get to patients.
In his budget, President Obama proposed reducing this period to just seven years. By doing so, he would make the prospect of creating new lifesaving medicines far less attractive for biotech investment. The result would be a marked slowdown in medical innovation.
The President’s budget also includes a plan to impose price controls in Medicare Part D. The proposal would implement a rebate scheme on medicines sold to low-income beneficiaries. Doing so would distort the pharmaceutical market and drive up premiums for many of the program’s other beneficiaries.
Both of these proposals pose a threat to an industry that is on the brink of historic advancements. These “reforms” would stand in the way of the economic growth and job creation that the biotech sector is poised to deliver to the Evergreen State.
Policymakers in Washington, D.C., should understand that the biotech boom is hardly a foregone conclusion. It’s up to them to support a business environment in which innovation can flourish.
Chris Rivera is president of the Washington State Biotechnology & Biomedical Association.
By Steve Runnels
May 16, 2013
With 70 Washington cities already home to 480 life sciences companies, our state’s role in developing cutting-edge medicines is something to be proud of.
The development of new drugs benefits Washington’s economy and patients around the world. But the Washington bioscience industry’s greatest opportunities — and challenges — are still ahead of us.
In the last few years, the number of new medicines in development has grown at an unprecedented rate. Provided that this flood of innovation isn’t disrupted by wrongheaded policy, the Evergreen state might soon play an enormous role in creating the next era of life-saving technologies.
Today, 5,400 pharmaceutical products are in clinical development, according to a new report from the economic consulting firm Analysis Group.
Seventy percent of these therapies are potential first-in-class products — medicines unlike any that have ever been available. Any one of these new treatments could save lives or make more costly medical interventions obsolete.
One group of Americans poised to benefit from this surge in drug research are those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
One in eight Americans over 65 and almost half of those over 85 were thought to suffer from alzheimer’s disease in 2012. Here in Washington, the Alzheimer’s Association expects incidence of the disease to increase by as much as 127 percent between 2000 and 2025.
Making matters worse, the cost of caring for Alzheimer’s patients is prohibitively high, and is expected to increase from $170 billion in 2012 to more than $1 trillion in 2050. A drug that could delay the onset of the illnesses could save Americans as much as $447 billion by 2050.
Right now, there are 125 Alzheimer’s treatments in the pharmaceutical pipeline — a fact that should inspire hope for patients with the disease as well as their families.
ProteoTech, the Kirkland biopharmaceutical company where I serve as CEO, is developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and rare diseases caused by misfolded amyloid proteins.
Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics is developing treatments for a variety of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Seattle Genetics, meanwhile, is testing therapies for conditions such as renal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer, among other diseases.
Those who suffer from rare diseases will likely be among those who benefit most from this deluge of new drug therapies. Rare or “orphan” diseases are conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 Americans. Because they are so uncommon, new treatments for these illnesses are often tough to come by. And yet, there are an impressive 1,795 projects designated for rare diseases in the pipeline.
But the mere fact that so many new medicines are in development is no guarantee they will reach patients. To ensure that biotech innovation continues to flourish, policymakers in Washington, D.C., should make every effort to support the industry. One way to start is by rejecting a proposal that would extend Medicaid-style price controls, or “rebates,” to the Medicare prescription drug program known as Part D.
Part D has proved successful at providing prescription medicines to American seniors at a considerably lower cost than originally projected. Imposing price controls on drugs sold through the program would needlessly introduce economic uncertainty into a biopharmaceutical sector that is on the cusp of historic breakthroughs.
In the long term, lawmakers would be wise to create an intellectual property system that ensures biotech innovators are able to recoup investments from successful inventions.
Creating a new drug therapy can cost over $1 billion and take anywhere from 10 to 15 years. If firms aren't confident that they can make back enormous upfront costs, the rate of medical innovation could slow tremendously.
But if our leaders in Washington, D.C., commit to protecting the life sciences industry, Washington state could find itself playing a leading role in the next great wave of medical discovery.
Steve Runnels is CEO of Seattle based ProteoTech Inc.
- 2,508 vendor relationships
- $427,780,568 vendor spending
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Northeastern University – Seattle is Washington’s first private research university and provides the region with talent, partnerships, and a strong knowledge base.Learn More
Specializing in small molecules, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical devices, and veterinary products, MPI Research is the largest single-site preclinical CRO facility in the world – with more than 1 million square feet and nearly 600 animal rooms.Learn More