Biotech Gaining Ground in Washington State, Report Says

6/30/09

“Boeing, bytes, and biotech.” That is what Washington state will be best known for over the coming decades, at least according to U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.

Inslee, a Democrat from Western Washington’s first congressional district, delivered that catchy sound bite yesterday morning at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. He spoke during a press conference to promote a new report that attempted to catalog of all the various drug, device, and other biomedical technologies emerging in the state’s labs. The event was hosted by We Work For Health, a partnership between governments, corporations and other organizations invested in healthcare. Inslee, along with Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and representatives from biomedical and biotechnology companies, spoke about the report and its key finding—that 119 new medicines developed in Washington labs are now being tested in clinical trials.

Produced by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the report is one of many regional versions of a national census on biotech R&D, according to Ken Johnson, senior vice president for communications and public affairs at the pharmaceutical industry trade group. He talked about how 46 new cancer treatments and 18 new heart disease treatments are being developed by companies with Washington branches or headquarters, and praised the work being done by Gregoire and Inslee, citing their support for national healthcare reform. Washington is a leader both in research and in policy when it comes to medical research and development, Johnson says.

“It is a healthcare crisis in America,” Gregoire said during her remarks. Gregoire, a breast cancer survivor, spoke optimistically about the future of disease treatment and prevention, and the leading role Washington plays and will continue to play in developing such cures. Collaboration is a key component to future innovation, she said. As an example, she mentioned a trip to Queensland, Australia she recently made to help create a partnership between the University of Washington and the University of Queensland to work together on medical research.

At the national level, Gregoire said she expects Congress to “bring forward healthcare reform by the end of this year and no later.” This effort to provide greater coverage for millions of Americans … Next Page »

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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