One of the nation’s premier biotech centers is finding it so hard to fill jobs the state’s trade association has launched an ambitious marketing campaign to lure workers to Washington state.

“Our industry has jobs. We have jobs at all levels,” said Leslie Alexandre, CEO of the trade group Life Science Washington. “We eagerly welcome people to come and join our ecosystem or to be trained from our schools and colleges.”

The organization hopes to entice workers with a flashy campaign designed to sell the Seattle lifestyle and promote the industry. Life Science Jobs in Washington State, launched last week, with the tag line: “Do your best work. Live your best life.”

In photos, videos and text, the site showcases the Seattle area’s environment and its life sciences industry. The videos have biotech workers telling their stories, extolling the significance of the work they do and the livability of the state. The idea is to introduce the rest of the country to what the state and especially the Puget Sound area has to offer.

Outside the Northwest, said Alexandre, people “simply do not know what Washington is about it.”

The site’s FAQ reinforces the sell. Discussing the cost of living, the site says it’s lower than in “many other life science clusters.,” Industry pay is competitive. The site pitches strongly to families, declaring, “high-ranked schools, abundant parks and excellent healthcare make it one of the best states in the country to raise happy, healthy children.”

Among the initial 217 jobs, the majority are at a senior level, requiring an advanced degree and several years of experience in life sciences. There are, however, several jobs for IT professionals and others, including some mid-level opportunities.

Meg O’Conor Bannecker, public affairs consultant working with Life Science Washington, told the Puget Sound Business Journal the area has a “a growing need for these middle-skill workers.”

She said entry-level jobs in biomanufacturing pay about $42,000, rising to as much as double after only a few years.    

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


Jun 6, 2023

Most New Drugs Never Make it to Market

The amazing speed with which the pharmaceutical industry developed, tested and won emergency approval for the COVID-19 vaccine was not just surprising, but in at least one way, misleading.

As the new report, Clinical Development Success Rates and Contributing Factors 2011 – 2020 from Bio.org makes clear, the COVID vaccines and therapeutics that became available mere months into the pandemic were a dramatic and rare exception.

On average, the report tells us it takes almost 11 years to go from a Phase I program to regulatory approval. And that’s only for those drugs and therapies that make it through. Over the 10 years from 2011, the likelihood that a drug in a Phase I trial would ultimately win approval was 7.9%.

That may be better odds than winning the Powerball lottery, however, the investment in a drug’s development can dwarf all but the largest jackpots. Making it even more of a gamble for a pharmaceutical firm is that the average success rate has declined since Bio’s 2016 report. Then the average for the previous 10 years was 9.6%.

Heavy with tables, charts and graphs, the Bio.org report (in conjunction with Informa Pharma Intelligence and QLS Advisors) reviews success rates across 21 major diseases. It reports specifics on 14 of them, combining the balance into an “Other” category. The detailed diseases are: Allergy, Autoimmune, Cardiovascular, Endocrine, Gastroenterology (non-IBD), Hematology, Infectious disease, Metabolic, Neurology, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry, Respiratory, and Urology.

Comparing the success rates in the current report to the previous one, Bio found 12 categories had a lower likelihood of progressing from Phase 1 to approval. The largest decline was in urology. In the 2016 report, therapeutics in this category averaged 11.4% success. In the recent report, the average fell to 3.6%.

Hematology has the highest likelihood of approval at 23.9%, though it too saw a decline from 26.1%.

Drugs to treat rare diseases fared better than other therapies. The report said these drugs had a 17% likelihood of success.

The decrease, explains a Bio.org discussion of the report, “Can be attributed to two main factors: A greater participation from smaller firms participating in drug candidate development and their willingness to disclose early failures.”

Said David Thomas, BIO VP, industry research, “That all ties into what we see, which is a lower success rate overall from our last paper in 2016.”

Drug development remains difficult with far less than 1 in 10 clinical drug programs ever reaching patients,” says the Bio.org account. “It usually takes 10 to 10.5 years to develop a vaccine, which makes the existing COVID-19 vaccines on the market all the more incredible.”

Success, adds Thomas, takes “many shots on goal.”

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash