Meeting Brings Kudos to NC’s Pharmaceutical Innovation
The benefits of medical innovation took center stage Thursday at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, as researchers, patient advocates and pharmaceutical industry representatives gathered to reflect on the industry’s importance.
Doug Edgeton, NCBiotech president and CEO, welcomed the participants and participated on a panel organized by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry’s trade association and lobbying arm. It was one of several being conducted around the country’s major pharmaceutical hubs by PhRMA.
The panel, moderated by Sam Taylor, president of NCBIO, also included:
- Alicia Diggs, a board member and secretary of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network;
- Brian Johns, Ph.D., vice president of HIV research, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and;
- Michael Montello, vice president and global head of R&D solutions information technology at IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS).
The panel discussion focused on medical innovation, particularly through the lens of HIV/AIDS research, advances in clinical trials and the ways in which North Carolina is a national leader for life science research.
“North Carolina is a global life science leader in developing, testing and manufacturing therapies that help improve lives,” said Edgeton. “The innovative work being done statewide by 63,000 people at our 700-plus life science companies continues to grow the sector and contribute economically, nutritionally and therapeutically.”
Life science innovation is the backbone of North Carolina’s 21st Century economy. The sector accounts for more than $86 billion in annual economic output statewide and supports more than 260,000 high-quality direct and indirect jobs in the state.
In an era of medicine marked by innovation across myriad illnesses and diseases, there is perhaps no greater example of the achievements of scientists than that of HIV medicines and treatments. A global pandemic that was once considered a death sentence has experienced a transformation in care thanks to medicines that help manage the HIV infection. With proper medicines, HIV can now be managed as a chronic illness, allowing for better quality of life and a longer life for patients.
“Across the pharmaceutical industry, we have some of the best minds working on every disease you can imagine,” said Johns. “When it comes to HIV/AIDS, advances are allowing us to tackle areas of the disease we never thought possible when the epidemic began. If our research can reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS and help return patients’ lives to normal, we have succeeded.”
GSK has been a leader in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Johns’ work led to the discovery of Tivicay (dolutegravir), a breakthrough treatment now being used worldwide to help treat individuals with HIV.
Today, there are 52 medicines and vaccines for HIV in development including additional combination treatments, more effective therapies and preventative vaccines. Of these 52 HIV medicines and vaccines, six are being developed in the Research Triangle.
PhRMA says 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 alone.