How Have Clinical Trials Improved Life in Alabama?

Researcher working on clinical trial in BirminghamWould you be surprised to learn that the average life expectancy in the U.S. has practically doubled over the last century? It’s true, and in large part thanks to the advancements made through clinical trials.

This was the sentiment shared by Art Tipton, the CEO of Southern Research Institute, and others at the Innovation Depot known as “Research in Your Backyard” in Birmingham. The event featured some notable influencers on the Alabama research industry, such as:

  • Top administrators from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
  • Representatives from PhRMA, a trade association for the pharmaceutical industry
  • Alabama Governor Robert Bentley

During his keynote speech, Tipton explained how the process of clinical trials is very stringent, lengthy and expensive. Yet this process has produced some “astonishing results” that have truly transformed our lives.

(Quick Fact: The development of a single new drug takes 8 years on average and requires about 10,000 study participants!)

Clinical Trials Boost Alabama’s Economy

The spokesman for PhRMA, Matt Bennett, introduced all the main speakers during the event. He also listed a few notable clinical trial stats himself:

  • Clinical trials are comprised of 4 main phases.
  • Bringing a new drug to market can cost as much as $1.5 billion.
  • Most volunteers receive compensation for study participation.
  • More than 3,400 clinical trials have been successfully conducted in Alabama since 1999.
  • Almost 1,000 of these clinical trials were conducted at UAB.

David Winwood, executive director of UAB’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, explained how clinical research in Birmingham has helped boost Alabama’s economy. They have certainly helped create a number of high-quality jobs in the area. Plus the success that UAB has seen over the years has attracted the attention of huge pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer.

Gov. Bentley told the audience about the statewide initiative to both create and retain more jobs in Alabama.

“That’s how we produce jobs from knowledge,” says Bentley.

Clinical Research and Knowledge-Based Job Creation

If you want real examples of knowledge-based job creators, look no further than the projects happening at the Depot. This is a business incubator which currently houses 90 small firms.

MedSnap is one of these small Depot firms that Bentley tends to favorite in his discussions on the topic. This health-focused tech firm provides useful information on various prescription pills using three components:

  • A small tray,
  • A smartphone camera, and
  • A robust database

Clinical trials and associated medical research have certainly become a significant part of the economy in Alabama– they support more than 17,000 jobs! The estimates from 2011 showed that pharmaceutical companies generated $3.2 billion in economic activity for Alabama. Bentley is adamant about growing their economic impact in the very near future.



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