Week in Review: Ensuring Patients Have Access to Needed Treatments

Week in Review: Ensuring Patients Have Access to Needed Treatments

06.27.14 | By Kaelan Hollon

Biopharmaceutical research and development (R&D) is fueled by innovative minds with an eye toward the future. It has provided patients around the world with treatments to help them live healthier, more productive lives. This week, we focused on the ways in which innovation continues to help patients thrive and the unfortunate roadblocks that often hinder patient access to life-changing medicines.

Thanks to a significant investment of time and resources by all members of the biopharmaceutical sector, a robust pipeline of innovative new medicines exists. The industry is projected to spend more than $92 billion globally on research in 2015, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, and it is this type of commitment to world health that will not only improve health, but also help strengthen the global economy. Currently, the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry directly employs 650,000 Americans, and many more indirect jobs in other sectors. This increased investment in R&D provides opportunity for jobs at home and hope for patients around the world.

Unfortunately, the value these innovative new medicines bring to patients is often overlooked, which can result in barriers to access. There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the cost of medicines, but very little emphasis on their value – and the two must go hand-in-hand. As a result, PhRMA’s own Robert Zirkelbach highlighted an article from Optum Health that examined new treatments to cure Hepatitis C, a disease affecting nearly 3.2 million Americans. With the development of a cure, patients can expect to live longer, healthier lives, while also decreasing health care expenses over time. “Because costs are driven largely by end-stage liver disease, liver transplants and cancer, total hepatitis C-related health care expenses can be expected to decrease over time as successfully treated patients avoid progressing to more severe forms of the disease,” the article noted.

Patient access to innovative medicines, like the cure for hepatitis C, has recently been questioned. The health insurance exchanges included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were designed to help patients get the treatments they need, but studies suggest the plans create barriers to access for patients suffering from debilitating chronic conditions. To examine this issue, we launched our Burden on Patients blog series this week focusing specifically on patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and HIV/AIDS. The series will continue in the coming weeks, spotlighting other conditions including diabetes, mental health and multiple sclerosis. We encourage you to share your thoughts on these posts and encourage others to do the same.

Check back in with the Catalyst next week for more on patient health and what the biopharmaceutical industry is doing to help patient. For real-time updates from the industry, follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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