Christine Stuart photo

A newly formed coalition of local businesses, labor unions, and health care groups touted the importance of the state’s role in the development of cutting-edge cancer therapies and medicines Tuesday at a press conference featuring Academy Award winning actress Marcia Gay Harden.

Harden, who interviewed women living with breast cancer in preparation for her 2007 role in the movie Rails and Ties, said all of us know someone who has been effected by breast cancer. She said the bad news is that the number of breast cancer patients is increasing, but the good news is there are new medicines and treatments for those diagnosed with cancer.

Ken Johnson, senior vice president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said he’s happy to be part of the We Work for Health coalition because its members are bound by the belief that “medical innovation is good for the health of patients and good for the economy.”

According to Johnson’s organization, cancer is the second leading cause of death in Connecticut and breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women in Connecticut.

But there’s hope on the horizon Johnson said.

In Connecticut there are 17 medicines in development to treat lung cancer, nine for colorectal cancer, 13 for breast cancer, 4 for pancreatic cancer, 13 for prostate cancer, and several others targeting various types of cancer. Altogether there are 70 cancer medicines being developed in the state.

Sen. Jonathan Harris, D-West Hartford, said these medicines and therapies being developed in the state keep people healthy and create jobs.

Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Quaker Hill, said these medical innovations are “good for our health, but even better for our economy.” She said it’s a win-win for the state.