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New York Times vs. Personalized Medicine?


PMC President: Times’ Critique of Streamlined Regulatory Approval for Personalized Treatments ‘Ignores Promising Implications’ of Field


WASHINGTON (June 13, 2018) —

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In response to an editorial published on June 9 by the New York Times titled “Easier Drug Approval, at What Price?,” Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) President Edward Abrahams today defends a series of decisions by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the last several years that have streamlined the regulatory review process for personalized medicines.

“Unlike FDA, which has been an engine for innovation under the direction of Scott Gottlieb and his predecessors, ‘Easier Drug Approval, at What Price?’ ignores the promising implications of reforms in regulatory science that FDA has put in place to facilitate a new appreciation of how different individuals respond to selected treatments,” Abrahams said.

As PMC underlined earlier this year in a report titled Personalized Medicine at FDA: 2017 Progress Report, personalized medicines now account for one of every four drugs the agency approves. The Times’ editorial, which was also published online under the headline “Easier Drug Approval Isn’t Cutting Drug Prices,” contends that “it’s not clear that people, as opposed to drug companies, are feeling much benefit” from the streamlined regulatory review pathways that bring personalized treatments to market faster.

Abrahams disagrees, noting that in non-small cell lung cancer, for example, a disease that was nearly untreatable 20 years ago, there are now multiple drugs on the market that target a patient's particular tumor. As indicated by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), these treatments "improve the survival of subsets of patients with metastatic disease."

Furthermore, because targeted therapies zero in on specific cancerous mutations, doctors can use diagnostic tests to identify with much greater certainty the patients who will likely benefit from them, sparing expenses and side effects for those will not. That logic underpins FDA’s decision to streamline its regulatory processes, to ensure that patients who will benefit from promising targeted therapies — many of whom have few remaining options — can access those treatments without unnecessary delay.

“By putting in place smarter policies to encourage the efficient development of personalized drugs whose safety and efficacy profiles are often higher than one-size-fits-all, trial-and-error treatments, FDA serves the interests not only of patients but also the health system, which spends too much money on ineffective treatments,” Abrahams said.

To evaluate the American public’s interest in personalized medicine, PMC and GenomeWeb recently commissioned Public Perspectives on Personalized Medicine: A Survey of U.S. Public Opinion, which was published in May. Two-thirds of Americans indicated in the survey that they appreciate personalized medicine’s potential, and the majority expressed concerns about whether they will have access to personalized tests and treatments in the future.

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Contact:
Christopher J. Wells
cwells@personalizedmedicinecoalition.org
Phone: 202-589-1770

About the Personalized Medicine Coalition:
The Personalized Medicine Coalition, representing innovators, scientists, patients, providers and payers, promotes the understanding and adoption of personalized medicine concepts, services and products to benefit patients and the health system. For more information about PMC, please visit www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org.

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