Research shows that up to 50% of cancer cases and 50% of cancer deaths are preventable.
It is tempting to be disappointed in the advances in cancer treatments and cures (“Watch the Hype: Cancer Treatment Still Has Far to Go,” Review, March 19). Scientific breakthroughs can never happen fast enough or frequently enough when lives are on the line. But we have made significant advances by discovering the power of cancer prevention and early detection.
Research shows that up to 50% of cancer cases and 50% of cancer deaths are preventable. Melvin Konner names the vaccine for human papillomavirus the “biggest recent advance” because it can prevent most cases of cervical cancers. Further research into the HPV vaccine shows that it can also prevent at least five other types of cancer. In addition, we’ve discovered that most liver cancers are caused by hepatitis B or C. There’s a vaccine available for hepatitis B, as well as screening and treatment for hepatitis C. By preventing or treating these viruses, we can stop 80% to 95% of liver cancer cases from occurring.
Drug policies aimed at restricting and criminalizing drug use and minor possession have had detrimental effects on the health, wellbeing, and human rights of drug users and the wider public in the past 50 years, according to a new report by The Lancet and Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
“The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production, and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws, but these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded,” said Commissioner Dr. Chris Beyrer, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, U.S. “The global ‘war on drugs’ has harmed public health, human rights and development. It’s time for us to rethink our approach to global drug policies, and put scientific evidence and public health at the heart of drug policy discussions.”
Note: Personally, I think it’s a little too early to conclude that Zepatier will have the same fate as the AbbVie’s drug. In fact, this article lists Technivie as the competing drug against Harvoni when in fact it should have listed Viekira Pak. Alan
Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges contends that even the launch of Merck’s (MRK) Zepatier at a 40% discount to Gilead Sciences’ (GILD) Harvoni hasn’t been to dent the biotech giant’s dominance. He explains:
Bottom Line: Gilead HCV Franchise Proves Durable in the Face of Increased Competition. We recently reinitiated coverage of Gilead with an Outperform rating, due in part to the significant cash generation of its HCV franchise, which generated $19bn in sales in 2015, or 59% of total revenue. Over the last 12 months, the HCV landscape has become more crowded with the approvals of three additional direct-acting antiviral (DAA) competitors:Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMY) (OP) Daklinza (7/2015), AbbVie’s (ABBV) Technivie (7/2015), and Merck’s (MP) Zepatier (1/2016). It has been assumed by the Street that Gilead’s HCV revenue will erode as result of further price pressure with share loss – especially given Zepatier’s introduction at a +40% discount relative to Harvoni. However, our current analysis of IMS script data and review of the largest payer plan formularies reveal that Gilead’s HCV DAAs are continuing to dominate the market, with modest share gains for rivals. Seven weeks after the launch of Zepatier, Sovaldi and Harvoni retain a relatively favorable/ position in 65% of the to 20 largest commercial plans and 70% of the top 10 largest government plans relative to AbbVie’s Viekira Pak (20%, 30%, respectively) and Zepatier (0%, 10%).
In mass media and popular culture, medical research is often framed as a race to overcome a complex, seemingly insurmountable challenge, with lives hanging in the balance.
Enter the team of scientists in white lab coats, working around the clock to cure HIV, eradicate cancers or make Alzheimer’s a thing of the past. This sort of narrative is dramatic, hopeful and in line with what some expect of science, but the reality is that progress is far more incremental.
Michael Houghton’s “race” started 35 years ago in a San Francisco-area lab where he was part of the team that first identified hepatitis C. In those days, the early 1980s, scientists knew the virus existed—patients were getting sick because of blood transfusions—but it was labelled for what it wasn’t: “non-A” or “non-B” hepatitis.
Fifty years of drug policies aimed at restricting and criminalizing drug use and minor possession have had serious detrimental effects on the health, well being and human rights of drug users and the wider public, according to a major new report by The Lancet and Johns Hopkins University in the US.
The authors of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Public Health and International Drug Policy call for non-violent minor drug offenses including use, possession, and petty sale, to be decriminalized. The report provides compelling evidence from countries such as Portugal and the Czech Republic that have decriminalized non-violent minor drug offenses, and seen significant public health benefits, cost savings, and lower incarceration with no significant increase in problematic drug use.
The authors call for an evidence-based approach to drug policy. With the legalization of cannabis in Uruguay and four US states (Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska), the Commission urges governments considering regulated markets like these to find appropriate ways of evaluating their impact so that lessons can be learned.
MAYWOOD, Ill., March 23 (UPI) — Hepatitis C patients are often cured before completing a treatment regimen, suggesting patients require less of the drugs needed to fight the disease, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Loyola University devised a mathematical model that predicts the length of time patients need direct-acting antiviral drugs, potentially limiting the cost of being treated with an expensive drug.
Using more frequent blood testing, the researchers were able to determine hepatitis C levels and predict when the drug sofosbuvir, combined with one of three others, could be stopped.
Roche announced today that it has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its hepatitis C virus (HCV) quantitative RNA test to be used as an aid in the diagnosis of HCV infection for certain patient populations. Results from the COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV Test, v2.0 can now be used to confirm an active hepatitis infection, in addition to providing an accurate measurement of how much virus is in a patient’s blood, to help a physician determine the best course of treatment. This expanded use for the test saves a physician time in making a treatment decision and helps improve patient care.
“Hepatitis C can be a silent killer, but with several highly effective new antiviral drugs on the market, there is a very high cure rate,” said Alan Wright, MD, MPH, chief medical officer at Roche Diagnostics. “That’s why the CDC recommends HCV testing for persons at risk for infection and for everyone born between 1945 and 1965. But a positive HCV antibody test alone does not indicate an active infection. So it’s critical for physicians to diagnose an active infection by detecting the presence of hepatitis C virus RNA.”
The Roche test is the first quantitative HCV RNA test to be approved for use as an aid in diagnosis for active HCV infection. This expanded indication is in addition to its approved use as a viral load test to help physicians assess a patient’s response to antiviral therapy. Roche HCV viral load tests have also been used to establish the treatment efficacy of direct-acting antiviral treatment regimens recently approved by the FDA. The COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV Test, v2.0 is part of Roche’s expanding portfolio of diagnostic tests to diagnose, confirm and manage hepatitis C infection.