Cancer news is pouring in. From new drugs to the novel uses of existing drugs, new diagnostics to fresh insights into the pathways this formidable adversary takes in annihilating human bodies -news is trickling in from all corners as the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology is underway in Chicago. And given how almost every family has had (or is likely to have one) some brush with this disease, each bit of information looks like a beacon of hope.First the positives: New data reinforces the belief that personalised treatment, ugg boots as opposed to one-size-fits-all drugs, is the way to handle this monster. You can get more details on the genetic shifts in the war against car .While breast cancer drug Herceptin and leukemia drug Gleevec are already shining examples of targeted therapy (where patients are tested for certain genetic mutation and then administered drugs), a brand new example is of mutation in a gene called BRAF in skin cancers. Targeting that mutation, with a new drug (tested by Roche and BMS among others) gets a response rate of about 50% as opposed to standard drugs which elicit only 5.5% response.Targeting that mutation, with a new drug gets a response rate of about 50% as opposed to standard drugs which elicit only 5.5% response. Photo by Ben ZadoGreat news , we must all think. But we must also wonder: Are our regulatory bodies adapting and innovating at a rate that matches the pace of science which, often times, is pretty slow, if not glacial?These drugs will eventually come into the market but at what cost? ugg nordstrom Even if big pharma starts launching some of these news drugs in India, with a relatively small time lag as compared to earlier much longer delays, can we afford them?As for the regulatory part, the agencies will have to spur, and approve, new diagnostics to test the mutation and markers for the drugs in a manner that they match the new arrivals. (The less we talk about it in the Indian context the better.)As for the cost, the pharmaceutical department and a few allied agencies in India have made some headway on this. I’ve written a small piece in this week on how the new initiative will impact the prices of some commonly-used cancer drugs. But the question to ask, especially in the light of new scientific advances, is, is there a way these targeted drugs, which are meant to fix what is broken, unlike the old cytotoxic drugs which harm even the healthy cells, can be made accessible to many, if not most, in India?After all, a dose of kidney cancer drug Sutin can cost up to Rs 1 lakh. It’s pretty steep even for the wealthy.If the government can influence or bring down the maximum retail price of some of these newer drugs, then the impact would be much greater, says B S Ajaikumar, chairman and chief executive officer of HCG Enterprises, south Asia’s largest cancer care network.I think keeping drug prices under check is absolutely central to cancer treatment or management (it is indeed only management as there’s no cure) because in the lifespan of this disease, medical oncology plays the biggest role.  In the slash-burn-poison regimen of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, it’s the latter that burns big holes in patients"pockets mayfaire ugg boots on sale , sometimes even burning down their houses or ancestral property.Some would say insurance is the answer -increase the insurance penetration, drugs would be available. But then the US, which has a fairly large penetration of insurance, has seen healthcare costs spiral out of control. (I’d say a good example to learn how not to screw the healthcare system.)What then is the best model to keep funding good quality science (which is pretty expensive, by the way) and keep the steady flow of new drugs reaching people who need them most?It’s perhaps as big a battle as the scientific battle researchers and medicos are raging in-vivo/in vitro.
Posted on : Sunday, 02 December 2012
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