Press Release

PhRMA Statement on Burden of Cancer

PhRMA April 30, 2013

Washington, D.C. (August 19, 2010) — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) issued the following statement today regarding the American Cancer Society and LIVESTRONG report about the global economic cost of cancer:

“It is no secret that the scourge of cancer has profoundly negative effects around the world, and the report by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and LIVESTRONG illustrates the wide-ranging costs of this life-threatening, debilitating disease.

“By clearly delineating the precise economic burden of cancer, this report serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of the innovative work that America’s biopharmaceutical research companies undertake each day.

“The National Cancer Institute has identified cancer as the second leading cause of death in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans, and the World Health Organization anticipates that this year, the disease will become the world’s leading cause of death.

“That’s why America’s biopharmaceutical research companies currently have nearly 900 potential new medicines or vaccines in development to treat cancer. This includes, for example, 122 for lung cancer (the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.), 107 for breast cancer, 70 for colorectal cancer, and 103 for prostate cancer.

“The challenges in treating cancer are great, but the promise for the future is even greater. Importantly, the medicines currently being studied to battle the many forms of cancer build on remarkable progress already made – progress that has saved millions of lives.

“According to recent studies, since 1980, life expectancy for cancer patients has increased by about three years, and 83% of those gains are considered attributable to new treatments, including medicines. Another study found that medicines specifically account for 50% to 60% of increases in cancer survival rates since 1975.

“Similarly, cancer death rates are down. Advances in treatment have helped speed the pace of improvements in cancer death rates between 1990 and 2006, and much of the improvement came in more recent years: rates fell an average of 1.6% per year between 2001 and 2006, compared with a drop of just 0.3% in 1990-1993.

“As the ACS/LIVESTRONG report highlights, the cost of cancer is burdensome. But conversely, the value of medical progress is tremendous. According to a report by University of Chicago economists Kevin Murphy and Robert Topel, reducing cancer death rates by 10% would be worth roughly $4.4 trillion in economic value to current and future generations.

“Of course, the real value of progress in the war against cancer cannot be measured in dollars, but in lives saved. That’s why our commitment to research and development of new, potentially ground-breaking medicines to treat cancer – along with, of course, the full range of chronic diseases that plague America’s patients, costing billions while affecting quality of life – remains strong.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.

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