I am sure you would agree with me that Cancer treatment is painful, depressing and downright burdensome. The amount of money, time and effort spent to get well from Cancer are immense and people usually walk away from Cancer fearing remission. And now, we see pharmaceutical companies trying to target early stage patients with immunotherapy, which has traditionally being treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, as reported by Bloomberg.
The pain of Cancer drug trials and the mad rush by pharmaceutical companies
Big pharma companies, namely AstraZeneca Plc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co have reportedly gotten down to quickly testing new therapies to fight against Cancer in its earlier stages. While treatments will usually be tested in the sickest patients (might be leveraging on the fact that those patients will give anything to have a chance at survival), there is hope that the immune system can potentially strengthen itself to fight against tumors.
Prices of the proposed therapies are extremely high
The class of drugs, also known as checkpoint inhibitors, can potentially benefit companies such as Merck & Co. and Roche Holdings AG with their offerings, costing about US$150,000 to US$200,000 for just a year of treatment! The question is, are they worth it? That is exactly what the drug companies are trying to convince doctors of right now!
Unexpectedly, a few researchers and pharma companies have came out and claimed that immunotherapy has helped their patients combat against Cancerous tumors. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, Astra can stand to make US$2 billion from one of its immunotherapy which is the furthest along in terms of early Cancer treatment.
Again, just wanted to highlight that most Cancer which are treated early tend to be eradicated. Immunotherapy is still a very new field and much research still has to be committed!
Chris Boshoff, SVP for immuno-oncology at Pfizer provided a much needed voice for rationality cautioning that the field is still new and more evidence has to be presented in its efficacy and safety before widespread adoption by doctors and physicians.
There was also a closing remark made by AstraZeneca CEO, Pascal Soriot about how improvements in early treatment may lead to screening campaigns to find more people who can benefit. However, we do not see a correlation in this instance, unless pharma companies pay or implement widespread screeening programs.
Again, I urge caution. If you are suffering from Cancer, and especially in the earliest stages, it might not be wise to try a new therapy which is prescribed by your physician and does not have past evidence of success. You essentially can decide what treatment you want, and how you want it. We are consumers, we have buying power, but right now, the market has immense selling power. Turn the table around today.