"What's really exciting about Maryland is that once you get more great companies, you can attract more great people to come here," said Susannah Budington, a spokeswoman for Human Genome Sciences in Rockville.
More than 5,700 people work for the FDA in Maryland, and more than 16,000 work at the National Institutes of Health, according to the Department of Business and Economic Development. Another 3,200 people work at Fort Detrick in Frederick, home to the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
Many of these government research and regulatory experts eventually end up working in the private sector. The Baltimore-Washington region is populated by former FDA and NIH professionals who work as consultants, and the region is likely home to the largest national concentration of lawyers who specialize in FDA regulatory work, industry observers say.
Consultants such as Winston and Colonna are increasingly in demand for their expertise in advising companies worldwide on how to deal with the FDA's requirements on manufacturing processes and medical device designs.
"I probably have as many clients outside the U.S. as inside the U.S.," said Colonna. "I wind up all over the world."
International companies target different countries, but most eventually try to break into the U.S. market. The U.S. market is the "honey pot" for most biotechnology companies, Colonna said, because they can make more money for their products here.
"The U.S. health care system," Colonna said, "ends up driving innovation for the whole planet."