Kuntz: Support clinical trials


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Last week, Innovate Iowa, Iowa Biotech Association, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and PhRMA hosted a panel discussion in at the University of Iowa BioVentures Center in Coralville after the release of a report titled “Research in Your Backyard: Developing Cures, Creating Jobs. ”

The report highlights the significant role of pharmaceutical clinical trials in the economy and the overall health-care system for Iowa — and the especially large role Iowa City plays in providing clinical trials.  

The state of Iowa has appropriated $27.3 million with an additional $45.7 million option if the funds are spent by Iowa’s population under IowaCare. However, this program does not provide funding for, among other things, pharmaceuticals. 

The Iowa Legislature should allow funding from IowaCare to go to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics pharmaceutical services, so that in turn, UIHC can do more to continuously provide for the state of Iowa.

The study shows that more than half of all clinical trials in the state of Iowa since 1999 took place in Iowa City and that of the trials still occurring and recruiting patients, more than half occur in Iowa City as well.

Biopharmaceutical research has created jobs, tax revenue, and better health care for Iowans, according to the report. In fact, the study shows that because of the investment of biopharmaceutical companies in the state, in 2008 the industry supported more than 23,000 jobs, and this raised approximately $7 million in state tax revenue.

The report also shows some of the breakthroughs in medicine for six of the leading chronic illnesses facing the nation right now, and Iowa City is the only city in Iowa conducting research in all six fields.

This is largely because the UIHC and Carver School of Medicine are nationally renowned, and both are dedicated to innovative care and clinical trials.

However, the UIHC expects to see many increases in costs next year, and this could potentially hurt the clinical trials that do such great things for the state.   

The UIHC expects to see increases in costs next year to make sure its employees’ salaries are market competitive, as well as increases in medical and surgical supply costs, according to the University of Iowa general-education fund fiscal 2013 final budget. This could potentially detract from clinical trials.

It’s important that this nationally ranked hospital that helps so many Iowans also gets a lot of support from Iowans.

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