Pharma Strategy Blog has reached an exciting double milestone today – 500 posts and 100,000 views! Although the blog was started in 2006, most of the posts have been written over the last 18 months on a wide variety of topics from AIDS/HIV to cancer to rare stromal tumours, as well as notes from numerous conferences and observations on diseases, the Pharma industry, mergers & acquisition, industry leaders and even political reform of health care. We hope you have all enjoyed the ride and will continue to do so in 2010. Do keep your suggestions for interesting topics to cover coming in, we're only as good as the readers who share in the experience.
Right now, I'm in New Orleans covering the American Society of hematology meeting, which is one of my favourite annual meetings, and one I've regularly attended for the last 14 years. Just before I headed south I interviewed Dr Mary Ann Burg about the recent survey undertaken by the Association of Social Work (ASOW). The organisation released an important report late last week, describing the financial and emotional impact of the cost of cancer care on patients, caregivers and how social workers can help facilitate and ease the process as part of a multi-factorial team.
What particularly struck me forcefully in the brief discussion with Dr Burg is summarised in this chart below:
The excellent AOSW report also focused on multiple myeloma as an example of what happens to cancer patients going through treatment and how the costs of prescription drugs can have an impact. For example:
This data reminded me very clearly how much more expensive Celgene's Revlimid is compared to Millennium's Velcade (around a third to twice the cost). Myeloma is a big focus at this ASH, as you will see in other posts this week around the new exciting data coming out in lymphomas, leukemias and myeloma.
The report was also poignant given that the WSJ reported this morning that Allos Therapeutics were launching pralatrexate (Folotyn) in PTCL, a rare form of NHL, at a cost of $30,000 per month. To me, that's unconscionable, especially as the drug has only be seen to shrink tumours and not impact overall survival. We'll see how they fare, but I think I would rather die with my dignity intact than face the sort of extreme stress and financial worries described in the excellent ASOW report than even the co-pay would require. It does beg the question of:
- What price a life?
- What were they thinking?
Part of being a sensible corporate citizen in the pharma industry is recognising that we all have a duty to be fair minded, responsible and caring; greed in it's extreme form at the expense of patients well being is just nauseous and reprehensible.
Here's a rare call for action.
Please read the AOSW information here and digest the full impact of their findings for yourself. This affects all of us, as industry professionals, friends, caregivers, maybe even as a patient. Share it with others, if you blog or Tweet, write something about the report yourself or share this post or the ASOW link.
More on the ASH meeting and more about the AOSW will continue in other posts later this week.