Doctor holding a business card with capital lettering cancer research in hand, (Shutterstock/Have a nice day Photo)
Nearly 250 new cancer medicines and vaccines are in development, catalyzing a new era in personalized cancer treatment, according to a Thursday report by PhRMA and the American Cancer Society.
Biopharmaceutical companies are currently developing 248 new cancer drugs and vaccines aimed at treating the most recognized classes of cancer, according to the study. The new drugs, known as immuno-oncology medications, are thanks to researchers’ groundbreaking discoveries into the mechanisms that initiate and control cancer cell growth.
These immuno-oncology treatments are extraordinary in that they use the body’s own immune system to fight the disease, much like the body fights a virus.
While the cancer death rate has fallen 25 percent since 1991 and five-year survival rates are up 39 percent across all cancer types, the need for new, innovative cancer treatments is as pressing as ever. Over 1.6 million Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis in 2017, with almost 90 percent of those new diagnoses in patients over the age of 50. Another 600,000 will succumb to the disease in 2017 alone.
One troubling aspect of treating cancer is that it is incredibly costly. Spending on treatments topped $100 billion worldwide since 2013. The problem is only expected to worsen, with spending levels expected to grow at an annual rate between 6 and 9 percent.
The FDA has only approved around 68 new cancer drugs since 2011, with the average approval time from patent to FDA approval taking 9.8 years.