The Global Impact of Innovative Medicines

Week in Review: The Global Impact of Innovative Medicines

05.23.14 | By Kaelan Hollon

Across our health care system, it’s critical that patients always remain at the center of our shared efforts to improve, extend and save lives. For PhRMA and the industry writ-large, this is a bedrock mindset and ongoing access to innovative medicines represents health care’s best shot at preventing and managing costly chronic diseases. This week, we focused on the importance of patient access – along with safety – both in the United States and around the globe.

On Wednesday, our President and CEO John Castellani participated in a panel discussion hosted by The Atlanticon the value and cost of innovative medicines. Castellani noted that 70 percent of the 5,400 treatments making their way through the pipeline have the potential to be first-in-class, but it’s essential to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time.

One timely and real-life example referenced at the event is treatment of Hepatitis C. Until recently, Hepatitis C therapies were only effective in curing about half of infected patients, and left most with debilitating flu-like symptoms. Thanks to recent scientific advancements and the introduction of direct‐acting antiviral (DAA) medicines, cure rates have reached 90 percent or higher and have dramatically improved outcomes for patients with Hepatitis C. Innovative medicines like these are giving patients years of their life back every day.

New treatments have the ability to cure many of these patients, but only if access isn’t a barrier. Insurance companies and state Medicaid programs grow concerned about the cost associated with new medicines, but rarely take into account the costs that patients and the economy incur when Hepatitis C and other debilitating diseases go untreated.  Currently, an estimated 3.2 million Americans are living with Hepatitis C, and between 60 to 70 percent of those patients will develop liver disease, which could result in a possible liver transplant costing more than $500,000 on average. As more and more patients receive proper treatment and cures, the number of future infections will decrease over time.  It’s clear that innovative developments in medicine are saving lives every hour of every day.

Last Friday, President Obama declared this week “World Trade Week” to emphasize the importance of increased exports to bolster the U.S. economy and the economies of our trading partners around the globe. Toward that end, PhRMA presented its vision for global innovation to negotiators from the U.S. and European Union (EU) on Wednesday, during the fifth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) discussions. TTIP, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), have the potential to significantly impact innovation within the biopharmaceutical industry, especially in the area of strengthening intellectual property (IP) rights. Strong IP protections are imperative for maintaining and increasing R&D levels to spur development of new medicines for the world’s patients. We remain hopeful that leaders in the U.S. and our partners in the TPP and TTIP recognize the value of IP and the many positive economic and social contributions our industry makes, and ensure robust IP protections are included in these and future trade agreements.

Medicine safety is another concern that should be addressed worldwide. A new study conducted by regulators in Shenzhen, China found that 75 percent of cancer medicines purchased online proved to be counterfeit or ineffective. Counterfeit drug trafficking is a global, multibillion dollar issue that can severely harm patients, especially those who are purchasing their medicines from foreign, non-approved and unlicensed online pharmacies. Before ordering your medicines from the Internet, double-check that the online pharmacies you are using are VIPPS-approved to ensure your prescription drugs are sourced from within the secure U.S. supply chain.

Patient health and access to innovative medicines should never be restricted. Just the opposite, leaders across health care need to come together and make sure that patients truly are at the center. Check back in with the Catalyst each week where we will continue to post need-to-know information from across the industry to keep you informed.

 

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