Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States according to the American Cancer Society. More than 1.5 million people are reported to have cancer, and more than 575,000 people die every year because of it. Leukemia affects blood and bone cells, and is one of the more common cancers for children.
Last summer, the FDA approved Novartis CAR T-Cell therapy drug, Kymriah, for use in treating specific types of leukemia in younger people.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave a thumbs up for Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which is hoped to become a breakthrough treatment. CAR T-cell therapy takes genetically engineered blood cells of the patient and transforms them into an army of assassins that seek out and eliminate leukemia cells.
According to Dr. Stephan Grupp of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “This is a brand new way of treating cancer.” Grupp made headlines for treating Emily Whitehead, the first child to be receive CAR T-cell therapy for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The approval of CAR T-cell treatment is important because it is the first gene therapy for cancer in the U.S. market.
Together with the help of the University of Pennsylvania, Novartis Pharmaceuticals introduced CAR T-cell therapy to the world. The business has been tasked with bringing the treatment to the broader market and making it available to far more people than the experimental program could possibly reach.
Novartis Searches for the Cure
Joseph Jimenez, the former CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, said, “At Novartis, we have a long history of being at the forefront of transformative cancer treatment.”
The treatment is still expensive at this time, coming in at $475,000. However, the company stated that there would be no charge for those who didn’t show a response within a month. Over time, the costs will come down as the drug treatment becomes more widespread and commonly available.
Headed by new CEO Vasant “Vas” Narasimhan, Novartis is breaking ground with new lifesaving treatments. The company is pursuing new solutions for cancer.
Last summer, the FDA approved Novartis CAR T-Cell therapy drug, Kymriah, for use in treating specific types of leukemia in younger people. There had been some controversy associated with the drug, and the death in at least one instance of an elderly patient in France.
But the drug is believed to hold great promise in treating childhood leukemia. This may be a breakthrough not only for medical treatment, but also for how medicine is delivered through the private market to the widest range of patients at the least cost. It is bold action that will have bold consequences to cancer sufferers everywhere.