Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stem Cell Research as Economic Development

The New York Times earlier this week wrote about how some regions are courting the biotech industry. The story contained some caveats about the economic impact of biotech research, much less stem cell research.

In a counterpoint to arguments in California that CIRM is a major economic engine, Shaila Dewan wrote,

“...(B)iotech is a relatively tiny industry with a lengthy product-development process, and even in its largest clusters offers only a fraction of the jobs of traditional manufacturing. In the United States, only 43 biotechnology companies employ more than 1,000 people, according to BioAbility, a consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

“There is no guarantee that if a blockbuster drug materialized, it would be manufactured and marketed in the same place it was developed and tested.

Joseph Cortright, an economist who has studied biotechnology clusters, gave the example of a promising anti-leukemia compound developed at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, where Mr. Cortright is based. 'The economic impact in the Portland area is zero because the rights to manufacture and market this drug were owned already by Novartis,' Mr. Cortright said.”

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