You must learn about Monoclonal Antibodies (MAbs).
These new miracle drugs are synthetically manufactured antibodies (like those produced by your own immune system to fight foreign invaders), targeted to one specific site on a cell found to be important in a disease process.
In the past few years we have seen the introduction of MAbs like Kineret, Remicade, and Enbrel to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA); Erbitux and Avastin for Colon Cancer; and, Rituxan for nonHodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).
Compared to earlier drug regimens, these MAb therapies are a miracle. RA has been slowed or stopped in its tracks for millions of sufferers. Unresponsive colon cancer has been put into remission for many patients previously considered incurable; and, many NHL patients-- historically those lymphoma cases with a worse prognosis – are now living longer and are even disease free.
In treatment, millions of these safe, nontoxic, easy-to-administer targeted antibodies are injected into a patient, producing mass extermination of the destructive, disease-causing cells.
In cancer, MAbs replace or decrease the need for classic chemotherapy drugs that are basically poisons administered to patients in an attempt to kill cancer cells faster than they kill the patient (not always successfully).
In inflammatory diseases these antibodies deactivate specific components of the inflammatory cascade, thus blunting the damage done by inflammatory cells.
MAbs are very target-specific. So you need to develop many, maybe hundreds, of these drugs to fight individual components of different diseases. We will eventually need several, if not many, MAbs for each disease.
Most research oncologists believe that the final corner in cancer treatment has been turned and that we are on the verge of curing many cancers (listen to this NPR audio link) by developing MORE MAbs.
MAb drugs are being developed in the United States. Why is that? Because price controls on the pharmaceutical industry in other countries (LIKE CANADA) is killing R&D and driving drug development research into the ground.
Since 1990, the U.S. has become the largest drug R&D spender (24 billion Euros to 17 billion in all of Europe); and U.S. companies now sell the majority of the most used pharmaceuticals (33 out of 50, in 1998).
These figures are somewhat deceiving because many European pharmaceutical firms have actually been chased from their homelands, by price controls, taking up residence in the U.S. (e.g. Glaxo and Novartis), where it is still profitable to produce important medications that make a HUGE difference in EVERYONE'S life.
We are on the brink of a new era of disease control and eradication using MAbs. It is also an era when we are most upset about the costs of pharmaceuticals. Politicians, vying for an issue that they feel the general public cannot grasp, except for sound-bites, are beating the drums against drug companies, using foreign price control schemes as an example of how the U.S. citizens are getting ripped off.
Don’t believe it on face value. Learn about MAb's. If you do, you'll want more MAbs developed and brought to market. Thousands more. No matter WHAT the cost. You'll agree with me:
We need HIGHER drug prices.