PhRMA reports nearly 1,000 medicines in development to fight cancer

Monday, June 4, 2012 06:00 PM

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has released a report on American biopharmaceutical research companies’ 981 medicines and vaccines currently in development to fight the many types of cancer affecting millions of patients worldwide.

The potential medicines, which are either in clinical trials or under review by the FDA, include 121 for lung cancer, 117 for lymphoma and 111 for breast cancer.

“Despite amazing strides in the ongoing battle against cancer, the many forms of this disease remain a major public health challenge for patients, their families, healthcare providers,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “The ceaseless efforts of biopharmaceutical researchers in America have brought new and improved treatment to patients, providing options that didn’t exist before. This report reflects stories of remarkable science, individual perseverance and an unwavering commitment to patients.”

Over the last few decades, significant progress in biopharmaceutical R&D has led to steady improvements in cancer survivorship rates in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society, the cancer death rate fell 22% for men and 14% for women between 1990 and 2007, which translated to 898,000 fewer deaths from the disease in this period.

In addition to the benefits for patients and their families, declines in cancer death rates have a tremendous economic impact. The National Institutes of Health estimates overall costs for cancer in 2007 at $226.8 billion: $103.8 billion for direct medical costs (all health expenditures) and $123 billion for indirect mortality costs (cost of lost productivity due to premature death). According to recent research from the University of Chicago, reducing cancer death rates by 10% would be worth roughly $4.4 trillion in economic value to current and future generations.

America’s biopharmaceutical researchers are working on many new cutting-edge approaches to fight cancer. Some include:

  • A medicine that interferes with the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells by depriving them of the energy provided by glucose.
  • A medicine for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that inhibits cancer cells with a mutation found in about a third of AML sufferers.
  • A therapy that uses nanotechnology to target the delivery of medicines to prostate cancer cells, potentially overcoming some limitations of existing treatments.

“Since the war on cancer was declared in the early 1970s, biopharmaceutical research companies have laid a significant stake in the ground by helping millions of patients worldwide manage or even beat this disease,” said Castellani. “Future medical advancements are our best hope for lessening the burden of cancer to patients, their families and society.”

The continuing commitment of biopharmaceutical research companies to battling cancer and other diseases is evident in the U.S. According to the National Science Foundation, the biopharmaceutical sector accounts for nearly 20% of all domestic R&D funded by U.S. businesses—the single largest share of all U.S. business R&D.

To read the full report, click here.

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