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Sustaining innovation in an era of specialized medicine 

Sustaining innovation in an era of specialized medicine

Sustaining innovation in an era of specialized medicine

Henri A. Termeer

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date: 23 April 2017

We are living in an era of unprecedented biomedical innovation. In recent years, new therapies have improved the prognosis of numerous intractable disorders that were previously neglected—in some cases changing diseases from a death sentence to a manageable chronic condition.

Our increased understanding of the genetic basis of disease will continue to fuel the creation of innovative therapies for many decades. Many of even the most enterprising therapies being introduced today are only a bridge to the definitive cures that gene therapy, stem cells, and other advances may offer.

The current pace of innovation has spawned a public debate over the level of support that society should provide for access to progressive new medicines, particularly those designed for specialized patient populations. In this debate, the cost of these therapies is often highlighted while the specific and general benefits brought by providing access are often overlooked.

For individuals, access to innovative therapies has meant improved health, better quality of life and increased productivity—and often reduced spending on other medical interventions. For society more broadly, support for innovation allows the biopharmaceutical industry to continue with confidence in the creation of medicines for tomorrow; this investment supports the economic health of an industry that generates jobs favoured in developing and developed countries alike.

Here we examine the far-reaching impact of decisions by governments to support or deny access to biomedical innovation: we also outline the responsibility of all parties to address the issue of access to treatment in a global context.

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