Berlin (VFA). "A total of 4,000 new jobs, an increase of 14 percent in just one year, is the proud result of medical biotechnology in Germany. The 'job engine of biotechnology' is running hot," Dr. Frank Mathias, chairman of VFA Bio and member of the executive board of MediGene AG in Martinsried, said during the presentation of the industry report entitled "Medical Biotechnology in Germany 2008" in Berlin. The report was developed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on behalf of VFA Bio, the interest group for biotechnology within the German Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA). The annually published report is the only one to cover all activities in the field of medical biotechnology in Germany – in start-up companies as well as large corporations.

Compared to the previous year, medical biotechnology achieved a 24 percent sales increase in 2007 with pharmaceutical sales, revenues for licenses and services, and milestone payments. For infectious diseases and cancer, biopharmaceuticals – i.e. genetically manufactured drugs – generated a market share of 32 and 25 percent respectively and as high as 51 percent for immunological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The figure for the entire pharmaceutical market was 15 percent.

The authors of the study considered it a positive indicator of the future that in 2007 the number of biopharmaceuticals in clinical trials was up 10 percent to 354 drugs compared to the previous year. "First and foremost, there are now 46 percent more drugs in phase III, the last phase prior to marketing authorization," Matthias said. "The development portfolios of the companies have also matured and the risk of failure has therefore decreased." Most of the new pharmaceuticals are developed against infections (99) and cancer (90).

"With the previously available pharmaceuticals, only the symptoms of many diseases can be treated," Mathias said. "Biopharmaceuticals, on the other hand, often facilitate targeted, sustained intervention into the course of a disease or even prevention."

The report underscores this biopharmaceutical innovation potential with ongoing projects that are meant to lead to the marketing authorization of new drugs by 2011. Currently, two biopharmaceuticals are being clinically tested that could delay Alzheimer's disease: a monoclonal antibody and a therapeutic vaccine. They could generate not just individual benefit but also great benefit for society as a whole, because 12,000 Germans over the age of 65 develop Alzheimer's disease every year, and this number will even increase in the future due to demographic change. Costs for each seriously ill patient are estimated at EUR 100,000 per year. Even if the new drugs could delay the disease by just two additional years compared to the current capabilities of medication, this would facilitate substantial savings for the national economy apart from patient benefits.

However, what biopharmaceuticals can achieve in overcoming serious therapeutic deficits is also shown by rare diseases such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a coagulation disorder, or Muckle-Wells syndrome, which can lead to deafness and organ failure. While ITP can be tackled with such radical measures as removal of the spleen, there is no effective therapy for Muckle-Wells syndrome. New biopharmaceuticals are currently undergoing the last development phase prior to marketing authorization and could facilitate targeted therapy for these diseases for the very first time.

"To ensure better health care for patients with biopharmaceuticals, VFA Bio fights for an environment that promotes innovation," Mathias concluded. Especially the economic follow-up costs of diseases will have to be taken into account.

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VFA Bio represents the field of biotechnology within the German Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA), which represents 30 globally leading companies in the areas of health, research and economic policy. VFA Bio fights for tapping the medical and economic potential of biotechnology and for making Germany the leading biotechnology location in Europe by 2015.

For additional information, please contact:

Dr. Rolf Hömke
Phone: +49 30 - 2 06 04-204
Fax: +49 30 - 2 06 04-209