2013 Drug Approvals: A Brighter Outlook for Cancer Patients

2013 Drug Approvals: A Brighter Outlook for Cancer Patients

 In Research

Even with a significant decrease in prescription drug approvals in the United States, cancer patients stand to reap the benefits of many newly approved therapies. This year, a total of 98 new prescription drugs have been approved in the U.S. (25 approvals) and EU (73 approvals), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Though this number represents an uptick in 2013 approvals in the EU, it is a sharp decline from the 15-year high in U.S. drug approvals in 2012, when the FDA approved 39 new drugs.

While a wide variety of therapeutic areas have been positively affected by these approvals, 2013 has seen particularly notable progress in the oncology treatment landscape, with the vast majority of overall new therapies approved to help patients fight cancer. In fact, 27 percent of drugs approved this year were cancer treatments, with 10 percent for diabetes, and three percent for multiple sclerosis, blood pressure and H.I.V, respectively.

This heavy oncology focus comes as no surprise, as cancer research has undergone some major innovations recently. One particular research breakthrough that has received a significant amount of buzz in 2013 is the Programmed Cell Death Protein 1, also known as PD-1. This novel treatment – categorized as an immunotherapy – acts by utilizing the body’s own immune system to attack cancers. The New York Times praised this method of immunotherapy, highlighting its success in patients who had previously failed all traditional treatments.

As additional immunotherapy compounds continue through development and clinical trials moving into 2014, pharmaceutical companies will need to communicate to patients on the availability, efficacy, and safety of this innovative treatment area. There will be an increased need for patient engagement efforts to ensure patients are well informed on the benefits that these new and improved treatments bring – which include longer survival rates and fewer side-effects, resulting in increased quality of life.

As pharmaceutical companies improve current therapies and continue to develop new ones, patients will surely have a larger arsenal of treatments at their disposal.