the rise of targeted therapies, hampered by lack of access to reimbursement

Fifteen years ago, we jumped for joy at the announcement of even a single new targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. Today dozens are presented at every congress., says Professor Jean-Yves Blay. Back from ASCO, the world high-level oncology congress held in Chicago from June 3rd to 7th, the director general of the Léon Bérard Center in Lyon and president of Unicancer does not pout his joy: “There is still a lot to be discovered to better care for patients, but it is impressive to see all the effort and progress that has been made. »

also read Article reserved for our subscribers Why Laboratories Are Increasingly Investing in the Cancer Market

For two decades, the fight against cancer, the main cause of premature death in France, which kills almost 360,000 women and men in France every year, has been undergoing a revolution thanks to the fermentation of academic and industrial research. The figures bear this out: Between 2002 and 2021, more than two hundred new cancer drugs received commercial approval worldwide, more than half of them in the last five years alone, the Iqvia Institute calculates.

This boil is partly due to the renewed interest of pharmaceutical manufacturers in this market, the value of which continues to grow (in 2021 its turnover reached 176 billion euros), but also to advances in understanding how cancer works.

“Convergence of Science, Technology and Data”

These scientific advances have led to the emergence of so-called precision medicine, whose weapon branch of targeted therapies is in full swing. The idea is simple: adapt each patient’s treatment to the specific characteristics of their tumor so that it is as effective as possible. For example, a patient being treated for lung cancer will be prescribed medications that differ from standard treatments for that type of cancer, depending on the gene mutation they have.

Targeted therapies are more effective and cause fewer side effects in patients than traditional chemotherapy treatments

Enough to whet the appetite of big pharma, many of which have made the turn into oncology in recent years, like Britain’s AstraZeneca. With nearly a hundred papers presented at ASCO, one of which on the treatment of breast cancer was a highlight of this 2022 edition, the lab has made oncology its main passion. We are in unprecedented times. The convergence of science, technology and data will enable us to offer patients therapies beyond anything we ever imagined. », observes David Fredrickson, executive vice president of AstraZeneca’s oncology business.

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