A new drug treatment has been approved for use in the United States for those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This new drug is called Kymriah, a gene therapy. It takes a patient’s white blood cells, removes them and genetically reconstructs them to be cancer fighting agents. These new cells are then sent back into the blood stream to attack the cancer and they continue to multiply as they find cancer.
Studies that have been completed show that 83 percent of 63 treated patients were cancer free three months after the treatment, and would continue to be studied for long-term results of the treatment.
The company selling Kymriah, Novartis, is charging $475,000 for the treatment. Making some question whether or not it’s worth almost half a million dollars. Of course, life is more precious than money, but $475,000 could take some individuals the rest of their lives to pay off. However, some may find that it would be worth it to keep that individual around. It also raises the question of which insurance companies benefit the most from the price of this drug.
While the treatment does help those with certain types of blood-based cancers, those who have studied the drug have struggled to make it work with tumors and other types of cancer. Still hopeful, they believe the future of this drug will be a life saving medicine for all types of cancers.
The drug treatments for cancer are not usually patient specific. This includes treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, but Kymriah is going to be patient specific, and will likely be a much more beneficial route of treatment for most patients dealing with cancer. This treatment may just be what we need to end cancer someday.
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