Flinn Scholars News
UA, Tucson seek $7.5M to secure drug-development institute
A project that would reduce drug costs and increase their speed to market is looking to make Tucson its home base, but needs to quickly raise $7.5 million to have a realistic shot. The proposed Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development would elevate Tucson's standing among biotech centers nationwide.
A project that would reduce drug costs and increase their speed to market is looking to make Tucson its home base, but needs to quickly raise $7.5 million to have a realistic shot.
The proposed Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development, a non-profit partnership between the University of Arizona, Food and Drug Administration, and SRI International, would elevate Tucson's standing among biotech centers nationwide. SRI, a nonprofit tech development company out of California, joined up with UA in pitching the Tucson location to the FDA.
"The reason we want to do this is the cost of drugs is threatening our health-care system and threatening the pharmaceutical industry," Dr. Raymond Woosley, UA vice president for health sciences, told the Arizona Daily Star. Woosley, once considered for the top spot at the FDA, is heading up the fundraising drive and efforts to bring the institute to Tucson.
Currently, industry figures show that it takes an average of 12 years and $1.7 billion to take a new drug to market. Woosley and others hope that the institute could lower that cost and the timeframe from the lab to the pharmacy shelves.
Though UA, FDA, and SRI have each committed $750,000 annually in a memorandum of understanding, according to the Star, the project requires additional funds for the initial five years, after which the institute may be eligible for federal funding.
But project leaders say that if private investors don't come forward with $7.5 million in donations in the next few weeks, the FDA may open the project to bid among more mature biotech markets like San Diego, and Tucson would most likely be cut out of the picture.
"If it goes out to bid, Tucson can't compete," Francie Merryman told the Star. Merryman is chairman of the Greater Tucson Economic Council and a vice president of Northern Trust Bank.
Bruce Wright, the associate vice president of economic development for UA, says that this project is critical to the evolution of Tucson's fledgling biotech industry, according to the Star. Moreover, the location of the institute near the UA campus would attract more high-profile researchers and start-up companies to the area, which would benefit both the university and the greater Tucson community.
Wright, Woosley, and representatives from SRI and FDA are meeting with potential investors this week in hopes of lining up donations.
For more information:
"$7M needed for big step in biotech," Arizona Daily Star, 8/19/2004
"UA seeks drug institute," Arizona Daily Star, 8/11/2004