[PRESS RELEASE] Research in your backyard

DEVELOPING CURES, CREATING JOBS:
CASTELLI LAUDS REGION’S BIOTECH CLUSTER

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge) today reviewed a new accounting of biopharmaceutical research in New York, which shows that the state was responsible for approximately one third of all clinical trials of new medicines in the United States over the last decade.

Castelli and other lawmakers joined a press conference with representatives of the region’s biotech industry to highlight this new information, which cited New York as Leader in bio-pharmecutical research, and notes that bio-tech and bio-pharm companies account for nearly 10,000 jobs in Westchester-Hudson Valley Region

“Between the recent developments with the biotech incubator at New York Medical College, and the assistance of Governor Cuomo and the Regional Economic Development Council, we are working to create the Silicon Valley of biotech here in the next twenty years,” Castelli said. “The concept is already underway, thanks to the sixty biotech companies here in the Hudson Valley region such as Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the Burke Research Institute, which generate millions of dollars in economic development, save lives, and most importantly, create jobs.”

Leading national biopharmaceutical firms and New York medical schools, hospitals and research centers collaborated on more than 6,200 clinical trials during the period – including pioneering work on arthritis, cancer, mental illness and diabetes. More than 1,230 clinical trials are ongoing in the state.

In Westchester County, Acorda Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. are two biopharmaceutical companies that develop new medicines for clinical trials. Their work focuses on finding cures and treatments for a variety of diseases and therapeutic conditions.

The clinical trials are then conducted at local hospitals and medical research centers. Burke Medical Research Institute and New York Medical College, both in Westchester County, are two such centers that recruit patients and perform clinical trials.

“Clinical trials are critical to establishing whether a new potential drug treatment is safe and effective for patients,” said Andrew R. Blight, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Acorda Therapeutics. “New York is home to many academic and clinical centers of excellence that participate in this important work. Acorda has collaborated with of number of these institutions over the years and is grateful for the contributions that they have made to advancing medicine and public health.”

“The discovery and development of new medicines is immensely complex and challenging,” said George Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Tarrytown, New York, and President of Regeneron Laboratories. “After devoting several years to discovery research and preclinical development of a potential new drug, biopharmaceutical companies spend several more years conducting clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of drug candidates in humans. The well-developed network of medical research institutions and clinical trial sites in New York State are important assets for biopharmaceutical companies located here as well as for the state’s economy.”

“The Burke Medical Research Institute is committed to providing the tools necessary for reducing or eliminating disability caused by disease and illness, said Rajiv R. Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of Burke Medical Research Institute and professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College. “We just opened additional Regenerative Medicine Laboratories that are bringing us another step closer to achieving this goal. Our investment in these labs demonstrates Burke’s commitment to the economic health of our community and to establishing the Hudson Valley as a leading hub for biotech research in New York. Our principal investigators have secured millions of dollars in funding from the National Institutes of Health and every dollar from the NIH generates seven dollars in economic activity. The economic and societal benefits of the clinical trials we conduct at Burke are making a real impact on the region.”

“The transition from lab discovery to breakthrough drug can be greatly assisted when you provide the right environment,” said Robert W. Amler, MD, Vice President for Government Affairs and dean of public health at New York Medical College. “This goes beyond the usual technical equipment to include access to a broadly experienced faculty of colleagues, an extensive on-line information service, science-business training, and even venture capital,” Dr. Amler said.

The report – “Research in Your Backyard: Developing Cures, Creating Jobs” – was released today during the news conference at Acorda Therapeutics in Ardsley.

The report finds that of the 6,282 clinical trials conducted, 3,255 target the nation’s most debilitating chronic diseases – asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and stroke. Of these trials, 716 are just now recruiting New York patients.

Chronic diseases post the greatest threat to our nation’s health and are the leading cause of rising health care costs. Treatment of chronic diseases account for 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care.

“Because of its core of leading bio-pharm companies and top flight research institutions, New York State plays a critical role in the testing of new medicines,” said Nathan Tinker, Executive Director of the New York Biotechnology Association. ” The health care benefits and economic impact of this research is extraordinary and growing. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Hudson Valley-Westchester region.”

Kaelan Hollon, Director of Communications for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, said many of the medications that have been clinically researched in New York are cutting-edge biotechnology treatments, including monoclonal antibody therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Hollon said such development and testing provides a tremendous economic boost to the state. In fact, on average, the development and testing of a single drug costs more than $1 billion. Nearly half of that amount involves the extensive testing required by the federal government.

Employment in the bio-pharm sector exceeds 200,000 in New York, she said, and employees working directly for pharmaceutical companies are paid $2.8 billion, leading to more than $9 million in state taxes and more than $646 million in federal taxation.

Locally, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are a vital component of economic development in the Hudson Valley. There are more than 80 companies with 9,600 employees in the region.

Research institutions in New York that are conducting trials include:
Burke Medical Research Institute, White Plains;
Bioscience Research, Mount Kisco;
New York Medical College, Valhalla, Hawthorne;
Brain and Spine Surgeons of New York and Northern Westchester Hospitals, White Plains; and
Advanced Oncology Associates, Armonk.
For a complete list of Hudson Valley biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies: http://www.hvedc.com/webpages/documents/biotechnology.pdf. For information on ongoing clinic trials in New York visit: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.

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Copyright © 2012 Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli, All rights reserved.
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Bazzo 10/02/12

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