Continued Progress against HIV/AIDS through Incremental Innovation

Continued Progress against HIV/AIDS through Incremental Innovation

11.30.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

Today we've got a guest post from Thomas F. Goss, Senior Vice President of Boston Healthcare Associates, Inc.

World AIDS Day on the 1st of December is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and encourage continued progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care in high prevalence countries and all countries around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) will continue its World AIDS Day theme of "Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS Related Deaths" through 2015.

The fact that the WHO has chosen this theme shows what incredible progress we have made in our efforts to prevent and treat HIV infection worldwide. Innovative prevention strategies combined with numerous innovations in the discovery of therapies have put achievement of this goal within reach.

Innovation in medical care in general, and in biopharmaceutical discovery and development in particular, requires a careful, orchestrated process between pharmaceutical industry sponsors, clinical investigators, and real patients who are looking for hope. We see the impact of this innovation in clinical trial outcomes metrics, including reductions in HIV viral load, rates of transmission, and annual HIV mortality rates, as reported by the CDC.

However, the processes that occur in between the discovery of a molecule and real-world patient treatment, those that enable scientific gains to turn into patient gains, are just as important to recognize in the overall innovation process. A paper released today by Boston Healthcare, "Recognizing Value in Innovation in HIV/AIDS Therapy," illustrates some of the key dynamics in this process of innovation. (See the executive summary here.)

The treatment gains we've made against HIV/AIDS have not been through a simple, linear process or by a single, major breakthrough, but rather a complex, high-risk process that sustains innovation by building on incremental successes and setbacks in order to provide the most effective therapies to HIV/AIDS patients and their care providers. Within this process, FDA approval of new medicines is only a starting point - our understanding of the value of medicines and treatment combinations evolves over time as further studies are performed and treatment regimens change.

In order to sustain continued progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and build on previous successes, patients, providers, insurers, and discovery companies need sound policy approaches that incentivize innovation by aligning with the often incremental processes by which innovation occurs. The WHO goal of Zero AIDS related deaths is a realistic and achievable goal through continued development of policies that align future innovation with improved patient access to life saving therapies.

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