Too Few Patients For Some Drug Trials & Biotech Companies Look at ‘Organs on a Chip’,
This week’s Bio Blog examines several challenges as well as opportunities for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Although immune therapy and personalized medicine offer many advances in cancer treatment, a lack of suitable patients to test these therapies on may hinder the launch of new drugs. Biotech companies are looking into “organs on a chip”, tissue samples on flexible polymer plastic chips that react to ingredients include drug compounds and may one day, pending FDA approval, replace many methods of testing today. Other top stories of the week include the bull market for biotech funding, with $10 billion in disclosed equity funding expected in 2017, changes to HHS bundled payments, and more.
The rush to market for new cancer drugs has hit an unexpected roadblock with a dearth of people to test them on. Immunotherapy and personalized medicine both offer hope for cancer patients but they also pose an unexpected challenge for researchers. With many experimental cancer drugs and clinical trials, there aren’t enough patients to test the new medications. A look at the challenges in the race to find the cure and what companies are doing about them.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is leading the development of CancerLinQ, a health information technology (IT) platform designed to harness big data for a single purpose: to rapidly improve the quality of care for people with cancer. CancerLinQ aggregates and analyzes real-world cancer care data from almost any electronic record source. CanerLinQ recently announced its first partnership with a government agency, NCI, in June 2017.
The high cost of new drugs captures the media headlines and the public’s attention, but an analysis of Medicaid costs shows that it’s not only new, specialized medications that come with a high price tag. Hundreds of older, branded and generic drugs cost the Medicaid program billions in 2016 versus 2015, a Kaiser study shows. Older drugs that became more expensive include medications to treat cancer, psychosis, and ear infections.
The times are certainly changing…new results show that doctors are slowly accepting the concept of a single-payer healthcare system. Today, more than half of U.S. doctor favor a single payer healthcare system with 42% strongly in favor and 14% somewhat in favor. Doctors seem to support a “Medicaid for all” type of coverage that would reduce paperwork and hassles.
Uncertainty over the future of cost-sharing reduction payments has led the feds to push back the deadline for ACA exchange rate filings. The new deadline is September 6.
Concerns that the Trump Administration may be backing away from bundled payment models appears to be justified. HHS made a move last week to cancel bundled payments for heart attacks and joint replacements in what may be the first signs of a reversing the Obama era push for bundled payments for many services.
Aetna is taking technology to its members as it enters talks with Apple to subsidize the cost Apple watched for 23 million members. Wearable technology can help insurance companies and healthcare providers monitor patients heart rate, among other things.
Academic and government researchers, as well as a handful of biotech startsup, are breaking new ground with human organs on chips. It sounds far-fetched, but researchers have been able to put miniaturized versions of lungs, kidneys, intestines, and other organs on flexible, translucent polymer chips filled with tiny tubes. When nutrients, air, blood and test compounds, such as drugs or cosmetic ingredients, are pumped through the tubes, the cells replicate some of the key functions of that organ, just as they do in the body. Chips offer new methods of testing foods, cosmetics, drugs, and dietary supplements that are faster and less costly than other methods.
Digital health financing is on the rebound after a dip in 2016, with 2017 showing bullish tendencies. 2017 is on track to hit $10 billion in equity funding compared to $6.9 billion in 2016. A list of mega deals in the article includes mention of deals made by Guardant Health, GRAIL, Bright Health, and others.