But, while medical progress across a wide range of conditions has been impressive, if you or someone you care about is battling one of these conditions - or a host of other chronic and other diseases - you want more progress and want it sooner than later.
That's one reason PhRMA's report
detailing new biotechnology medicines now in late- stage development, testing or in the FDA review process is so exciting. The report reveals that there are over 900 new biotechnology medicines
now in development targeting more than 100 diseases. According to the report, new possible biotech medicines include: 300 monoclonal antibodies, a laboratory-made version of the naturally occurring immune system protein that binds to and neutralizes foreign invaders; 298 vaccines, a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease; 23 antisense drugs, medicines that interfere with the communication process that tells a cell to produce an unwanted protein; and 20 interferons, proteins that interfere with the ability of a cell to reproduce.
Of course, not all of these medicines will be approved for patient use
. Some of those that are will represent small but important steps forward in treating a particular disease or condition and others may be real breakthroughs in how a disease is treated. Importantly, all these medicines - those that will be approved as well as those that fail - teach us a lot about a disease, its biology as well as what works and what might work even better as a future treatment.
Additionally the scientific advances in biology and technology used to create these innovative new medicines will play a critical role in helping us face and meet any number of future healthcare challenges. One that we talk about a lot here, for example, is Alzheimer's disease and the huge threat that it poses to both a growing patient population as well as the economy. The Alzheimer's Association projects potentially 15 million or more patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and costing the more than a trillion dollars for care by 2050
. We need new approaches and new treatments for Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association also projected that a new treatment that delayed the onset of Alzheimer's disease by five years or more could save as much as $450 Billion annually in healthcare costs, not to mention reducing the toll of suffering on patients and their families.
New biotechnology medicines are one avenue that holds great promise in helping us find needed new treatments.