The Daily Rise: Friday, March 25

Lung Cancer Bias

Holli Kolkey of “The Doctors Weigh In” shares the results on a new study, which found that lung cancer patients face shame, guilt, and hopelessness at a significantly higher rate than patients with other types of cancer.

“In fact, 3 out of 4 of the 1,778 people studied had this hidden negative bias,” Kolkey notes. “The study found that not even physicians were immune to these subconscious associations.”

  • 67% of people associated lung cancer with shame
  • 74% associated lung cancer with stigma
  • 75% associated lung cancer with hopelessness
  • 86% associated lung cancer with smoking

This stigma has major implications for patients, who are less likely to get the support and treatment they need. Previous studies have found “that primary care doctors were less likely to refer people with advanced lung cancer to an oncologist for anti-cancer treatment than they were for people with advanced breast cancer.”

One Day to Decide

WeAreGreenBay.com has the story of an agonizing torture being forced upon one patient with multiple sclerosis.

Gina Wilhelm has been denied the option of joining a clinical trial by her insurance company, Common Ground Healthcare, because she just isn’t sick enough.

“If Gina isn’t told by doctors she has less than 12 months to live, she’s not covered,” WeAreGreenBary reports.  As a result of her insurance company’s denial, she’s forced to raise $125,000 in order to resume her treatment, or “she’ll have to resume taking meds that could have deadly side effects.”

Mind you, this is the insurance company’s response in spite of the obvious bad publicity. Think of all the patients that aren’t able to mobilize the media to publicly shame their insurance companies. Fail first. You aren’t sick enough. There’s really no defense for these policies.

Lethal Price Control

Thomas P. Stossel, the American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine at Harvard and a visiting scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, explains why “prescription drug price controls pose lethal problems” for patients.

  • Nearly 90 percent of drugs arise solely from industry, not government-funded research.
  • To pilot just one drug through the Food and Drug Administration’s labyrinthine approval process costs on average over $2.5 billion.
  • Less than 12 percent of drugs entering trials achieve regulatory approval, and the few successes must compensate for the failures.

“Here’s what to expect from price controls: less return on successful drug development, leading firms to scale back research. Innovation will decline.”

Patent Battle Threatens PCSK9 Drug

Larry Husten of MedPage Today has the scoop on how a patent case might cause patients to lose access to a new PCSK9 inhibitor cholesterol lowering drug.

“Amgen, which manufactures Repatha (evolocumab), scored a court victory last week when a federal jury upheld two of its patents in Amgen’s case against Regeneron and Sanofi, which manufacture Praluent (alirocumab); previously the latter two companies had acknowledged that their drug infringes Amgen’s patents as written, but argued that those patents shouldn’t have been granted.”

Here at Patients Rising, we have a strong appreciation for patents, which are the cornerstone of innovation. Companies won’t invest the billions of dollars needed to develop a new treatment without legal protections of their intellectual property. But…

Notice how easily these patent cases turn into a competition, a game, a rivalry. In the end, these decisions affect patients who could be left without their current treatments. The biggest losers in patent cases are patients, who will inevitably suffer — no matter who wins the lawsuit.

And that’s why we need greater clarity earlier in the patent process. We need to improve the patent office to head off problems before they get to court.

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