Fueling Progress in the Fight Against Disease

A commitment to supporting patient access and innovation is required.

ELEANOR DEHONEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND ADVOCACY AT RESEARCH!AMERICA, BELIEVES POLICY MUST BALANCE INCENTIVES FOR INNOVATION AND AFFORDABLE ACCESS FOR PATIENTS.

ELEANOR DEHONEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY AND ADVOCACY AT RESEARCH!AMERICA, BELIEVES POLICY MUST BALANCE INCENTIVES FOR INNOVATION AND AFFORDABLE ACCESS FOR PATIENTS.

When the European Commission compiled its annual EU Industrial Research & Development Investment Scoreboard last year, Celgene led the world’s largest companies in percentage of revenues reinvested in research and development (R&D), at nearly 40 percent in 2015.

For Celgene, this reinvestment into the creation of more and better innovative medications is essential to fulfilling its promise to patients, ensuring that scientific advances continue to improve human health. The development of new therapies relies on substantial investments in R&D.

“The clock is ticking for many patients, and robust pipelines in the biopharmaceutical industry give them hope for the future,” said Eleanor Dehoney, vice president of policy and advocacy at the public health advocacy organization Research!America. “The purpose of mission-driven companies like Celgene is to invest and fuel medical progress continuously.”

Investments by Celgene and America’s other biopharmaceutical companies are already changing the course of serious and life-threatening diseases such as cancer. According to a recent report by the American Cancer Society, the death rate from cancer in the United States fell 25 percent between 1991 and 2014, with more than 2.1 million deaths averted. Researchers have credited new treatments—including innovative medications—with 79 to 86 percent of survival gains between 1980 and 2000.

The future of cancer care is also giving patients a reason to be hopeful. More than 800 new cancer therapies are under development, and 80 percent of cancer treatments in the pipeline represent potentially first-in-class medicines that use new approaches—such as CAR-T cells and immunotherapies.

Virtuous Cycle of Medical Innovation

A robust pipeline of cancer therapies would not have been possible without a commitment to ensuring approval of and reimbursement for the cancer medications that have been developed previously. This virtuous cycle of innovation is essential to ensuring continued progress in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

“We must continue to balance incentivizing innovation and providing affordable access for patients everywhere,” Dehoney said. “If policy isn’t developed with a holistic view of the entire health care ecosystem, the innovation that has the potential to drive down costs will suffer.”

Research supports the idea that increased spending on prescription medications can help reduce total cancer care costs. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, pharmaceutical spending rose by 179 percent, but overall cancer care costs decreased by 34 percent due to reductions in hospital care and radiation therapy. Meanwhile, patients continued to receive high-quality care.

Reinvesting revenue into R&D is very patient-centric, and we as a society need to support those investments to improve human health.

That study tested a new payment model that rewarded doctors based on how well their patients did. This scheme is a departure from the current fee-for-service system where doctors are paid for how often they see their patients not the quality of that care. Such a holistic view will ultimately benefit innovation and provide patients with the most appropriate treatment, according to Dehoney.

“We tend to undervalue medical innovation, but it’s going to take a village to tackle the health care challenges we face today,” Dehoney said. “Reinvesting revenue into R&D is very patient-centric, and we as a society need to support those investments to improve human health.”

To learn more about the why patient access is essential to supporting innovation, read “The Virtuous Cycle: Investing in Better Health Care.”