Innovative medicines are a significant factor in contributing to advances in cancer care - IPHA

Thursday 5 October, 2017


Responding to the publication of a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concerning the benefits on overall survival and quality of life of approved cancer medicines, the IPHA, which represents 44 research based pharmaceutical companies in Ireland, many of whom are providing key oncology medicines, has stated that new therapies have contributed to significant declines in cancer death rates around the world since its peak in 1991.


Between 1991 and 2011, cancer mortality rates fell by 21% in the EU 5 (UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy).  Today, 2 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survive at least 5 years.


According to IPHA CEO Oliver O’Connor, “long term cancer survival rates in Ireland have also improved significantly in the last decade – from 42% in the period 1994-1999 to 60% in 2005-2009 in men and from 52% to 62% over the same period in women.  Innovative oncology medicines have played a significant role in this.  For cancer patients globally, life expectancy continues to improve and there is no doubt that innovative medicines are a significant factor contributing to advances in cancer care.


It is worth noting that the BMJ study had not followed up on real world data on actual patient outcomes, but scrutinised exclusively clinical trials, and only afterwards compared this data with how the drugs have been used.  It can take many years to gather overall survival data on new cancer medicines.  This is why meaningful ‘surrogate outcomes’, such as progression free survival, are used by regulators so that promising new medicines can be provided to patients whilst further evidence is collected. Often these patients have no other treatment option.







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