First, consider this:
Only about 1 in 20 cancer patients participates in trials of experimental therapies. Doctors and drugmakers should be prudent about continuing to test products in desperate, hard-to-find patients when they haven’t shown significant benefits in multiple earlier studies, said Jonathan Kimmelman, a biomedical ethicist at McGill University in Montreal.
“You have a ridiculous number of drugs and targets and combinations you can test,” said Kimmelman, director of the Studies of Translation, Ethics and Medicine research group. “You want to pull the weeds and take the drugs and combinations that have the best prospects.”
Proving that a drug works can take time. Failure against one type of cancer doesn’t mean a treatment won’t work in another, said Janet Woodcock, director of drug evaluation for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And patients with few or no options may be eager to try an experimental drug regardless of its history.
In a surprisingly good coverage (a balanced perspective) from Bloomberg, this is a brilliant write up. I’d like to quote another graph that shows the rise of investments in cancer antibodies:
The reason why the pharma giants are doubling on it?
The rewards are eye-popping: Merck’s Keytruda, the leader in a class of medicines that harness the immune system, could attain annual sales of more than $27 billion within six years, according to estimates, more than any drug in history. Lifted by the rising tide of new treatments, the global oncology market is expected to reach $230 billion by 2024.
That’s a lot of money to say that all of them (or nearly all of them) provide a “progression-free-survival”.