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Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials Economic Boon for Southeastern North Carolina

PPD Headquarters, Wilmington, NC

Economic growth strategy is dominating conversations from neighborhood associations to cities and counties -- to the state and federal levels.  New Hanover County Commissioners recently paid for an analysis on the best ways to grow the area’s economy.  

One of the recommendations:  create a pharmacy school in the area since New Hanover County is, according to the Garner Report, "well-positioned to take advantage of expanding opportunities in Life / Marine Sciences Research and Development". 

Now, a recently-released regional analysis is zooming in more closely on the activity of one industry cluster and examining the impact of pharmaceutical clinical trials on southeastern North Carolina. 

According to Research in your Backyard:  Developing Cures, Creating Jobs, this area has seen a spike in life science jobs of nearly 25% over the last eight years.  That’s due, in part, to one of the world’s largest contract research organizations, PPD, headquartering in Wilmington. 

Kaelan Hollon is a Senior Communications Director for the group that produced the report, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – or PhRMA.  

“It’s been a huge boon, and in your area, you’ve had about 3600 total jobs attributable to the life sciences.  Now, PPD has about 1600 of those employees.  They’re definitely the biggest game in town.  But there are a lot of other people relying upon clinical trials, as well… When you start thinking about jobs within the life sciences and how it affects the economy and how these trials affect the economy, it’s not within a bubble, you know.  There’s just a huge multiplier factor.” 

The report also credits the biopharmaceutical industry with generating more than $50 billion in economic activity statewide two years ago and delivering $137 million to the state’s coffers in the form of tax revenue.   

This was only the second regional analysis undertaken by the nationally- and globally-focused advocacy group.     

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.