Patent News

Jul. 29, 2015

The News & Observer: ‘Innovation Act’ threatens medical progress in North Carolina, by Tashni-Ann Dubroy

This post originally appeared in The News & Observer on July 29, 2015.

In the final quarter of 2014, Chimerix, a biopharmaceutical company in Durham, lost over $20 million. Yet the company is hiring employees and ramping up spending in the local community. Wall Street can’t get enough of the pharma entity – its share price doubled last year.

To what can we attribute its fortuitous turn?

In short, innovation. Chimerix is testing a drug that could prevent deadly infections in people with weakened immune systems. Clinical trials like these probe lifesaving treatments, and the research activity behind them pumps millions into North Carolina’s economy.

Counterintuitively, federal lawmakers are considering changes to patent laws that would discourage biopharmaceutical companies from conducting trials. The Tar Heel state’s congressional representatives can’t let that happen.

North Carolina is a hotbed of life science research, boasting the highest concentration of life-sciences establishments in the nation. Many of these firms work on clinical trials and test drug safety and efficacy. These trials are essential for delivering novel treatments to patients. Over 45,000 North Carolina residents currently participate in more than 1,700 clinical trials.

The trials benefit not just patients, but the economy. North Carolina’s biopharmaceutical sector directly supports more than 52,000 jobs. In 2013, pharmaceutical companies spent $400 million on clinical trials in North Carolina. These tests generated $1 billion in economic activity.