Steep­est de­cline in US can­cer mor­tal­i­ty ever record­ed, study finds

De­clin­ing smok­ing rates, rapid di­ag­no­sis, and new­er treat­ments are thaw­ing mor­tal­i­ty rates for can­cer, which on­ly lags be­hind heart dis­ease as the biggest killer in the Unit­ed States — re­searchers sug­gest­ed in a new study on Wednes­day.

The largest-ever one-year de­cline in the US can­cer death rate — dri­ven pri­mar­i­ly by di­min­ish­ing lung can­cer mor­tal­i­ty — was a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety (ACS) re­port, which cal­cu­lat­ed an over­all drop of 29% in US can­cer rates from 1991 to 2017.

The de­cline in mor­tal­i­ty over the 26-year pe­ri­od has been large­ly steady due to long-term drops in death rates in the four most com­mon can­cer types: lung, col­orec­tal, breast, and prostate, al­though progress in re­duc­ing col­orec­tal, breast, and prostate can­cers has slowed, the re­searchers found, not­ing that this works out to more than 2.9 mil­lion deaths avoid­ed since 1991 when the mor­tal­i­ty rate was at its peak.

“(T)reat­ment break­throughs have al­so con­tributed, such as those for hematopoi­et­ic and lym­phoid ma­lig­nan­cies in both chil­dren and adults, and more re­cent­ly check­point block­ade im­munother­a­pies and tar­get­ed ther­a­pies for metasta­t­ic melanoma,” they wrote.

Pe­ter Bach, di­rec­tor of Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing’s cen­ter for health pol­i­cy and out­comes, took is­sue with at­tribut­ing the de­cline in can­cer mor­tal­i­ty to new med­i­cines in the study led by ACS’ Re­bec­ca Siegel.

The study does not test this hy­poth­e­sis, the renowned re­searcher and epi­demi­ol­o­gist wrote on Twit­ter. “Epi­demi­ol­o­gy may be opaque but it is not opin­ion.”

Source: Twit­ter, 2020

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

On av­er­age, the death rate has fall­en by 1.5% per year be­tween 2008 and 2017,  Siegel et al cal­cu­lat­ed.

“Nev­er­the­less, progress is slow­ing for can­cers that are amenable to ear­ly de­tec­tion through screen­ing (ie, breast can­cer, prostate can­cer, and CRC), and sub­stan­tial racial and ge­o­graph­ic dis­par­i­ties per­sist for high­ly pre­ventable can­cers, such as those of the cervix and lung,” the au­thors wrote.

“In­creased in­vest­ment in both the eq­ui­table ap­pli­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing can­cer con­trol in­ter­ven­tions and ba­sic and clin­i­cal re­search to fur­ther ad­vance treat­ment op­tions would un­doubt­ed­ly ac­cel­er­ate progress against can­cer.”

In 2016, the Unit­ed States spent near­ly twice as much as 10 high-in­come coun­tries on med­ical care and per­formed less well on many pop­u­la­tion health out­comes, da­ta shows.

And al­though the US has low­er-than-av­er­age mor­tal­i­ty rates for can­cer, it does have high­er than av­er­age rates in the oth­er caus­es of mor­tal­i­ty ver­sus coun­tries that are sim­i­lar in size and wealth (based on GDP and GDP per capi­ta), ac­cord­ing to an analy­sis con­duct­ed by The Pe­ter­son Cen­ter on Health­care and the Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion.

Source: The Pe­ter­son Cen­ter on Health­care & KFF, 2020

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

These cat­e­gories ac­count­ed for near­ly 74% of all deaths in the Unit­ed States in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the da­ta com­piled.

“My biggest con­cern, how­ev­er, is that the na­tion is so hy­per-fo­cused on can­cer (as re­flect­ed in (the) dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of R&D in on­col­o­gy space) that it’s ig­nor­ing the alarm­ing fact that over­all life (US) ex­pectan­cy is in de­cline,” health econ­o­mist Joshua Co­hen wrote in re­sponse to Bach’s com­ments on Twit­ter.

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”

EMA signs off on 3 drugs re­cent­ly re­ject­ed by FDA, in­clud­ing Bio­Mar­in's new he­mo­phil­ia gene ther­a­py

The EMA’s human medicines committee on Friday recommended three new drugs for approval or conditional approval, even as their US counterparts have rejected these three for various reasons.

In a major move, CHMP offered a thumbs-up to a conditional marketing authorization for the first gene therapy to treat severe hemophilia A, although the agency cautioned that it’s so far unknown how long the effects of infusion will last.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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Sanofi, GSK tout 72% Omi­cron ef­fi­ca­cy in PhI­II tri­al of next-gen, bi­va­lent shot — with an eye to year-end roll­out

Sometimes, being late can give you an advantage.

That’s what Sanofi and GSK are trying to say as the Big Pharma partners report positive results from a late-stage trial of their next-gen bivalent Covid-19 vaccine, which was designed to protect against both the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Beta variant. Specifically, against Omicron, they note, the vaccine delivered 72% efficacy in all adults and 93.2% in those previously infected.