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The Costs of Medications, Updated ESMO Guidelines, and More in This Week’s BioBlog


IP Blog | Dave Melin | September 10, 2017

BioBlog Weekly oncologyThis week on the Bio Blog, the discussion continues around the cost of medications. U.S. employers seek more narrow insurance benefit designs for employees, and the FDA approved Pfizer’s Mylotarg after a seven-year hiatus. A new app offers data-based symptom tracking for chemotherapy patients, and doctors react to the Trump Administration’s controversial decision to rescind DACA. This and more in the Innovation Partners Bio Blog.

European Society for Medical Oncology Releases Updated Guidelines

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) updated its clinical practice guidelines. In addition to the existing six guidelines, ESMO released three new guidelines covering Leptomeningeal Metastasis from Solid Tumors, Infusion Reactions, and Toxicities from Immunotherapy. ESMO is dedicated to establishing the highest standards of clinical practice. Each set of guidelines prepared and reviewed by leading experts with the goal of providing patients with the best possible care.

Employers Are Leery of New Plan Designs but Want to Cut Costs

Anecdotal evidence from consultants suggests that employers are not motivated to change healthcare plans unless it results in cost savings or a significant number of added benefits – more “bang for their buck.” Employers continue to look for ways to shrink the overall cost of healthcare for their employees.

App for Cancer Patients – ChemoWave

ChemoWave is a new smartphone app that provides doctors and patients with more information on treatment plans and better monitoring of health data during chemotherapy treatments. The app tracks symptoms, water intake, exercise, and medications, then compiles them into a health compliance database. The database then produces graphs and charts that help doctors and patients connect symptoms with medications or activities.

FDA Approves Mylotarg 7 Years After It was Pulled from the Market

The FDA approved Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin), a drug used for the treatment of adults with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia whose tumors express the CD33 antigen (CD33-positive AML) and for patients aged two years and older with CD33-positive AML who have experienced a relapse or who have not responded to initial treatment. This comes after Pfizer, the company behind the drug, voluntarily withdrew it in 2010 after a Phase III trial did not show a clinical benefit and the rate of fatalities due to treatment-related toxicity was significantly higher in the Mylotarg arm. The new approval recommends a lower dose, a different schedule in combination with chemotherapy or on its own, and a new patient population.

Future of ‘dreamer’ doctors in jeopardy as Trump rescinds DACA status; medical community ‘dismayed’ by the decision

The medical community expressed dismay and harsh criticism for the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program, which protected young illegal immigrants from deportation.

Novartis charged much more in the U.S. for some drugs than in other countries

There’s now proof that Americans often pay more for medications than their counterparts in other countries. Internal data from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis supports the assertion that Americans pay more for many medications than people in Germany, France, and the U.K., for example.

Novartis Calls the Doctor to Push Breakthrough Drugs Forward

Novartis announced on Monday that Vas Narasimhan, former global head of drug development, will step into the top leadership spot at the company. Narasimhan holds a medical degree from Harvard and is a specialist in heart failure, cancer, and infectious diseases. Narasimhan replaces Joe Jimenez as head of Novartis.


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