Oncology is a complex and ever-evolving therapy area that, similar to the disease itself, keeps mutating and changing at rapid speed, therefore making the development of new and effective treatments a continuous journey for the pharma industry.
At HRW, we’ve long been passionate and fascinated with this incredibly challenging therapy area, which resulted in the formation of our internal Oncology specialist team, known as OR:BIT (Oncology Research : Business Intelligence Team), last year. As part of our continuous quest to keep abreast with new developments in the Oncology sphere, we conducted a live webinar with six global Key Opinion Leaders at the beginning of this year. Through the course of our in-depth conversation, the KOLs identified that CAR-T and CAR-NK therapies could potentially be the key steps leading to the cure of certain cancers – a previously unthinkable achievement which could soon become our reality. That made us think – what does the future of the pharmaceutical industry look like when a cure for all cancer has been found?
Looking at the pathway of treatment for HCV might provide us a model for this. Originally, a dismal prognosis, we have now been able to achieve a cure! It was in 2011 that the treatments targeting HCV were approved by the FDA as the first protease inhibitors (e.g. telaprevir and boceprevir). Others have been approved since and drug development for HCV has not stopped, it’s now just more focussed on few side effects, longer term results, more convenience, etc.
While the treatment of cancer is much more complex as each tumour type requires a separate cure – the closer we get to curing one, the closer we get to curing all. So, what could this mean to cure all forms of cancer? And what is next for pharma?
While the upfront costs would be astronomical – a single dose of CAR-T treatment can cost $475,000– the therapies would be continuing to be refined – fewer side effects, easier administration, lower risk for relapse, and ultimately lower costs.
Now think of how far the money saved in management of side effects (i.e. CINV, neutropoenias, etc.) continued lab monitoring, HCP and patient time, and how far that could go in furthering other scientific developments – some medical, perhaps perfecting gene mapping to cure other diseases, but then perhaps even outside of medicine – space exploration, renewable resources, think of the possibilities!
While there is still a way to go to “find the cure”, we seem to be standing at the forefront of the future!
By Emily Glass