Jun 9, 2010

WSJ Op-Ed: Two Steps Forward in the War Against Cancer

The former deputy commissioner of the FDA (2005-2007) writes a insightful Op-Ed in today's WSJ (HERE) on a topic already blogged about the short tenure of the Med Policy blog (HERE): Attacks on physician and industry research collaborations threaten the future of clinical research and medical innovation.

Dr. Gottlieb starts by highlighting some of the exciting news coming out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago including novel BMS and Pfizer medicines that help patients with advanced melanoma and fatal forms of lung cancer, respectively.  Then describes contributions made by both academia and industry to make these, and other, innovative products a possibility.

Obviously it's always exciting when promising new medicines emerge, especially in this transitional period where the viability of drug pipelines is questioned on a regular basis.  It's also nice to highlight how industry and academia are part of the solution.  But neither of these concepts are particularly novel and may not justify a WSJ Op-Ed.  What does stand out in this piece is Dr. Gottlieb's recognition that activists bent on severing all collaboration between industry and physicians put all of this at risk.  Most are too busy milling about in their own worlds to see where this path is leading.  Luckily Dr. Gottlieb took this important opportunity to look beyond the flashy headlines and send this important warning:

"Most ominous, the journey from lab to treatment is at risk from activists' and regulators' growing suspicion of the collaboration between the academic researchers who uncover basic science and the drug industry that is able to design and manufacture medicines."