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's economy 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.
- 2017 Patient Advocate Lunch SeriesMarch 14, 2017
Local advocates gather at Dim Thai Phung in the University District to talk through federal health and safety issues.
- 2016 We Work For Health Summit in Washington, DCSeptember 04, 2016
On July 12 and 13, the We Work for Health (WWFH) coalition hosted its fourth annual Summit in Washington, DC.
Billionaire Bill Gates, whose foundation seeks to spread modern medicine through the developing world and wipe out diseases of the poor such as malaria, said he supports the U.S. drug pricing system even as politicians have intensified their criticism of high costs.
“The current system is better than most other systems one can imagine,” Gates said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “The drug companies are turning out miracles, and we need their R&D budgets to stay strong. They need to see the opportunity.”
Drugmakers have come under scrutiny for their pricing practices, with companies such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and Turing Pharmaceuticals AG lambasted by Congress for sharply raising the cost of older drugs. Investors have been urging biotech and pharma leaders to defend their industry by educating the public about the value of their products and the importance of rewarding innovation when most drug candidates fail in clinical trials. At the same time, drugmakers have tried to shift the blame to insurers.
Valeant and Turing are “extreme cases that I think have been properly labeled as inappropriate,” Gates said. In contrast, he said market forces were working properly in hepatitis C, invoking Gilead Sciences Inc.’s treatments Sovaldi and Harvoni, which have been criticized by insurers and politicians as too expensive at $1,000 a pill or more for 12 weeks of treatment, before discounts and rebates.
While Gilead is the market leader, it’s now facing competition from Merck & Co. and AbbVie Inc., forcing prices lower.
“Curing hepatitis C, this is a phenomenal thing, and now you have multiple drug companies competing in terms of the quality and the price of that offering,” he said.
For developing nations, tiered pricing is the answer, according to Gates. In such a system, drugs sold in low- and middle-income countries cost less than in developed nations. Gilead employs tiered pricing for Sovaldi and Harvoni, with 101 countries on its generics-approved list. In India, a generic pill can be bought for as little as $4.29.
“Tiered pricing is often the way that you can square the idea” of increasing access to drugs “and being able to fund new miracles; you really want both,” Gates said.
Drugmakers continue to lack incentives to address diseases that mainly affect poor nations, and that’s where governments and nonprofits like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have a crucial role, he said.
“Philanthropy and governments have to come in and say, ‘Malaria is a priority, despite the fact that people aren’t going to make much money,’” Gates said. “We go to the pharma companies and we say, ‘Hey, we’ll fund some of this.’ They donate some of it. We’ve gotten their attention, and that’s why we have actually a very strong malaria drug pipeline.”
Besides making grants, the Gates Foundation also employs various atypical financial tools, including equity investments and volume guarantees, to encourage drugmakers to pay attention to developing world diseases.
The foundation reported in May that it had received an unexpected boost to its endowment when a stake in a small biotechnology firm, Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., sold for $86.7 million -- about 17 times the fund’s original investment. While the foundation had invested in Anacor to encourage the company’s work in neglected diseases, Anacor shares took off after its toenail fungus drug was approved.
The money gained from the Anacor stake will be plowed back into the foundation, to be used for further initiatives, Gates said.
May 6, 2016
By Taylor Soper
Seattle-based AVM Biotechnology is raising more cash for its technology that helps improve stem cell delivery.
AVM executive Michael Kuran confirmed an SEC filing that shows the company in the process of raising a $17.5 million round, but wouldn’t provide further details about investors or how the money will be used.
Founded in 2008 and led by CEO Theresa Deisher, AVM is not a stem cell company, but rather a “regenerative medicine company whose technologies optimize the biodistribution and clinical utility of exogenously delivered stem cells and naturally-occurring endogenous stem cells.”
The company employs fewer than 10 people and has raised just under $5 million to date. It’s one of about 800 life sciences companies in Washington state that employ nearly 100,000 people. There were more than $3 billion in life science transactions in 2015 in Washington state, up from $1.6 billion in 2014. Companies such as Juno Therapeutics, Adaptive Biotechnologies and organizations such as the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are giving the industry new weight.
May 6, 2016
By Coral Garnick
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, an industry trade publication known as GEN, came out with its annual list of the nation's top biotech clusters, and Seattle came in at No. 7 for the second year in a row.
GEN ranks regions based on five criteria: National Institutes of Health funding, venture capital funding information that was made publicly available through MoneyTree reports, patents, lab space calculated by the commercial real estate brokerage JLL and jobs, also based on JLL’s report.
No. 5 in NIH funding — 219 awards, totaling $218 million
No. 6 in VC funding — $253 million in 11 deals, skewed by a single $195 million financing round won by Adaptive Biotechnologies in May.
No. 8 in patents — 1,763
No. 9 in lab space — 4.5 million square feet
No. 11 in jobs — 23,922 according to JLL
May 2, 2016
By Rachel Neilson
Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN) is undergoing some major expansion plans for its core products.
The Bothell company currently has just one commercialized drug, its cancer-fighting Adcetris, which is largely used to treat lymphomas. But it is pursuing additional uses of Adcetris while doing research on another 12 drugs.
The expansion of its drug pipeline could make Seattle Genetics, already a heavyweight in the region's biotech community with 800 employees, into an even bigger company. As it grows, the company helps attract and retain talented cancer researchers to the region, which has become one of the country's hot spots for cancer treatment and disease research.
In its earnings report last week, CEO Clay Siegall highlighted Phase 3 trials that are designed to support additional uses of Adcetris. Phase 3 trials are given to large groups of people to confirm a drug’s effectiveness and monitor side effects.
One of those Adcetris trials, which is for patients with relapsed cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, will report data in the third quarter. In total, Adcetris is being tested in more than 70 trials.
The company is in various stages with the other 12 drugs it has in its pipeline. It plans to start a Phase 3 trial to test its 33A drug against acute myeloid leukemia by the third quarter. Later this year it also expects to report data from 33A Phase 1 trials, in which researchers test a new drug in a small group of people for the first time to evaluate its safety.
Some of the drugs in its pipeline are targeted at solid tumors, particularly bladder cancer. The company has had two such drugs in Phase 1 clinical trials, and it will report data from those trials in early June at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago.
Seattle Genetics has the money to maintain such a pipeline. As a publicly traded company with $690 million in cash and investments as of the end of March and no debt, Seattle Genetics is in a “strong financial position,” CEO Clay Siegall said in statement.
April 26, 2016
By Mark Grayson
Today is World Intellectual Property Day, a celebration across the globe of the protections that allow creativity, risk-taking and innovation to thrive. America has long been the world’s innovation center – whether that is in manufacturing, technology or biopharmaceuticals. And it has been shown time and time again that strong protection of intellectual property (IP) is good for patients as it leads to the creation of innovative medicines and lifesaving cures.
Strong IP protections are critical to not only the creation of new drugs, but also to increased patient access to lifesaving drugs in markets throughout the world. Robust, effective approaches to IP encourage the development of new drugs that, after a period of time for further investment in R&D, can then be produced as generics.
Patents are important protections for innovators, investors and entrepreneurs. New medicines, especially, require years of research and billions of dollars before they can even reach patients. These protections are necessary to protect the investment, allowing companies to recoup costs and then further invest in R&D.
Protecting patents is also vital to protecting life sciences innovation. The incentives given to investors and researchers catalyze the creation of new medicines and spur discovery. Just the other week, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) found that IP protections are crucial to stimulating innovation and improving lives.
In their study, the ITIF found that strong IP protections have extended the world’s average life expectancy, created strong industries and supported the development of lifesaving medicines. The study notes that more chemical entities have been introduced in the United States in the 2000s than the next five countries combined. This is due to the commitment America has made to the biopharmaceutical industry and the innovation economy.
This World IP Day, we hope America continues their commitment to the life sciences industry and the advancement of new treatments. As long as protections exist for innovators, the United States will continue to lead the world in creating innovative, lifesaving medicines.
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- $433,366,284 vendor spending
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NanoString Technologies (NASDAQ: NSTG) is a publicly held provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostics. The company's technology enables a wide variety of basic research, translational medicine and in vitro diagnostics applications.Learn More