PHARMACY

PhRMA: Over 800 cancer treatments in pipeline

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — According to a new report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, biopharmaceutical companies are in high gear developing cancer treatments. The report highlights data from the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual progress report, which shows that there are currently 836 medicines and vaccines for various cancers in the pipeline.

These treatments include 123 for lung cancer, which the report says is expected to kill 158,000 people this year; 106 for different types of leukemia; 92 for lymphoma; 82 for breast cancer, of which there will be 231,840 new cases this year, according to the report; 58 for brain tumors; and 53 for skin cancer and melanoma.

“The oncology research community has made significant advances in identifying new, more effective therapies to help people with cancer achieve positive treatment outcomes and transition from being cancer patients to cancer survivors,” PhRMA president and CEO John J. Castellani said. “However, the battle is far from over. This new report underscores the sustained commitment of biopharmaceutical companies to address the unmet medical needs of patients fighting these terrible diseases.”

According to PhRMA’s report, since the early 1990s, the death rate among patients with cancer has declined 22%, with 83% of survival gains attributable to new treatments. Also a focus in the report is the growth of personalized medicine among cancer patients, and of the medicine being developed, 73% has the potential to be used as a personalized medicine.

“Oncology is on fire with [personalized medicine[, with treatment selections based on individual molecular characteristics,” Janet Woodcock, director of Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said. “This is also happening with chronic infectious, and genetic diseases are not far behind.”

To see more data from the report, see the infographic below. 

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NACDS, PhRMA research: Increased Rx use reduces Medicaid recipient’ health costs

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — An article citing the positive impact of prescription drugs on reducing other medical costs in the Medicaid program was published Wednesday by the journal Health Affairs' September issue. 
 
“Proper use of prescription medications is paramount in helping to improve patient health, especially for those with chronic conditions,” Steve Anderson, National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO said. “This research is further evidence of the impact of taking medications as prescribed – both in helping patients manage their chronic conditions and reducing emergency or catastrophic medical costs associated with medication non-adherence.” 
 
The article — “Increased Use Of Prescription Drugs Reduces Medical Costs In Medicaid Populations” — found that when prescription drugs are taken appropriately as prescribed by a physician, there is a reduction in other medical costs for certain Medicaid populations.  
 
Using data on more than 1.5 million Medicaid enrollees to examine the impact of changes in prescription drug use on medical costs, the research found a 1% increase in overall prescription drug use was associated with decreases in non-prescription drug medical costs for three distinct groups of Medicaid beneficiaries. 
 
Among blind or disabled adults, a 1% increase in drug usage was associated with a 0.108% decrease in total non-drug costs; for other adults there was a 0.167% decrease; and for children, there was a 0.041% decrease. 
 
These patients had one or more of the following eight chronic disease conditions that are non-communicable diseases and are treated with prescription medications:  hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes asthma or COPD, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, seizure disorder and gastroesophageal reflux disease.  
 
These findings further reinforce an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that, for the Medicare population, a 1% increase in prescription utilization was associated with a one-fifth of one percent decrease in medical expenditures. 
 
The article was co-authored by Laura Miller, NACDS senior economist, along with Christopher Roebuck, president and CEO of RxEconomics, Samantha Dougherty, senior director for policy and research at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Robert Kaestner, professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 
 
One of a collection of articles in a Health Affairs special report titled “Non-Communicable Diseases: The Growing Burden,” the NACDS co-authored article was unveiled at a special briefing in Washington.  
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Expanding pharmacist role key to better outcomes

BY David Salazar

LAS VEGAS — The role of the pharmacist in the U.S. healthcare system has expanded beyond dispensing to include vaccinations and medication therapy management, and that role could expand further with pharmacy provider status on the horizon. That was the subject of a CE session at Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s ThoughtSpot 2015, during which the American Pharmacists Association’s Vice President Professional Affairs Anne Burns outlined the ways that the changing role can provide opportunities for both pharmacists and patients.

One of the biggest challenges facing pharmacists today that Burns outlined in her CE session, titled “National Initiatives to Advance Pharmacists’ Patient Care Services,” is the need for pharmacists to be recognized as providers under Medicare Part B. Currently, legislation is working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would include pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B, which would mean that pharmacists could practice at the top of their license, filling chronic disease management roles in medically underserved areas.

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, pharmacists have found the traditional fee-for-service model changing as the Department of Health and Human Services is emphasizing a pay-for-performance model, putting quality of care above the number of scripts filled. And while this change is substantial, it presents an important opportunity for community pharmacies to provide care that can diversify revenue sources and opportunities.

“What we’re promoting is that access to health care is a real issue for patients and pharmacists can help; people on complex medications benefit from pharmacists' services,” Burns said. “When pharmacists are on a patient’s healthcare team, costs go down and quality improves, and while successful passage of these two bills is a priority for our profession, it is critical for our patients.”

Especially given the growing cost of chronic disease (which the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease found constitutes more than 75% of healthcare spending) and the cost of medication nonadherence (estimated by the New England Healthcare institute to be $300 billion), pharmacists are uniquely positioned and willing to provide solutions to a strained healthcare system.

“There is a plethora of different services that community pharmacies can think about implementing that can provide value to the system,” Burns said. “Starting with immunizations and medication administration and med sync, which I consider … [to be] things that can be implemented within normal models, and then moving through the continuum … to more complicated services, like MTM and disease management.”

As back-to-school season kicks into full gear, immunizations in particular are a focus of many community pharmacies around the country. AmerisourceBergen’s Global Sourcing and Manufacturing team is working to ensure that Good Neighbor Pharmacy members will be able to provide the necessary services in terms of vaccination and beyond, the company said.

Good Neighbor Pharmacy members and community pharmacies need to be able to practice at the very top of their license,” Peyton Howell, Executive Vice President and President of AmerisourceBergen’s Global Sourcing and Manufacturer Relations division, told Drug Store News. “And that to us means making sure they have access to the product to do that. That means a full suite of all types of vaccines, a wide range to preventive vaccines as well as some of the new vaccines that are coming out, a wide range of specialty products … and products that are designed to treat specific acute diseases, as well as chronic diseases.”

Howell also shared with Drug Store News that AmerisourceBergen’s priority is making sure that pharmacists are equipped to deal with the changing face of health care, and are ready if provider status is achieved and community pharmacies become the front lines of chronic disease management and MTM.

“This is essential when you look at the healthcare landscape,” she said. “We're going to need pharmacists that can serve patients across that patient life cycle and continue to be able to make sure that they have access to changing needs as new treatments come out.” 

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