1) Royal Philips moving 200-person research unit to Massachusetts – BBJ, 5/19/15
Royal Philips has signed a five-year deal with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to move its North American research center from New York to Cambridge. Philips (NYSE: PHG) will invest $25 million over five years in the research initiative, its largest to date in North America. Philips said it plans to hire dozens of people as well as relocate researchers from its existing research headquarters in Westchester, New York, and other existing locations in Massachusetts.
2) FDA OKs first quarterly schizophrenia drug – PharmaTimes, 5/19/15
US regulators have issued a green light for the first schizophrenia medicine dosed just four times a year, which could potentially help patients better stick to treatment and thus improve symptom control.
3) With path to approval, bluebird bio now worth more than Dunkin’ Donuts – BBJ, 5/19/15
The most successful of the state’s biotech firms to go public in the past two years, bluebird bio, just got a little more successful despite the fact that the apparent success of its gene therapy treatment for a very rare blood disease is based on trial data from just four patients.
4) Drugs for rare diseases must be pursued even if few patients need them – Boston Globe, 5/19/15
STEVEN SYRE is right about one thing: Chronic and debilitating rare diseases do take a physical, emotional, and financial toll on the 30 million Americans who live with one (“Drug prices that give us a headache,” Business, May 12). Regardless of the disease or the number of people affected, we must look at the benefits innovative treatments can provide and the potential that exists to extend and improve the quality of all patients’ lives.
5) MIT’s implantable device could help docs determine best cancer medicine – BBJ, 5/18/15
Imagine a device that can help doctors determine the best drug to treat a tumor, helping oncologists treat cancer with increased precision and personalization. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed one. The tiny implantable device – about the size of a grain of rice – can carry doses of up to 30 different drugs. After implanting the device in the tumor, researchers can measure how effectively each drug is at treating a patient’s cancer, eliminating much of the trial and error that current oncologists face.
This month, the Biotech Caucus hosted a Massachusetts “BIOTECH 101” event at the State House.
This educational event began with an industry snapshot presentation by Robert Coughlin, President and CEO of MassBio. The presentation provided a high level look at the biotechnology industry in the Commonwealth and its vital impact on the Massachusetts economy.
Massachusetts Legislators and their staff then heard from a panel of experts as they discussed how the innovative science and technology that our talented Massachusetts workforce is focused on is improving the lives of patients around the world.
By Lynne Graziano Morin, Senior Advocacy Manager, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
We all know that Greater Boston is a mecca for innovation and scientific development. It’s almost part of the state’s DNA. Thanks to the work that is going on in our own backyard, new drugs are available to patients and saving lives.
While the costs to develop these drugs are high, the cost of not developing them is measured in something much more valuable than money — human lives. These are medications that countless patients rely on. As someone who has worked in patient outreach for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I frequently helped patients navigate an often confusing cancer journey.
And in my new role as a Senior Advocacy Manager for LLS, I hear stories about the struggles patients face. I’ve listened many times, as patient after patient talks about the crippling out-of-pocket costs associated with the prescription drugs they take to treat their blood cancer – even with insurance coverage.
Unfortunately insurers often place these life-saving medications on the highest tiers of their drug formularies, forcing patients to pay as much as 50 percent of the cost of the actual drug. These patients are often filled with fear upon hearing their diagnosis. Patients wonder if the treatment plan their doctor prescribes will work, or if there will be unpleasant side effects to deal with. The last thing these patients need is an added worry about whether they can afford their medication.
It’s an untenable predicament, and one that Massachusetts legislators can do something about by supporting Sen. Anthony Petrucelli’s bill SB541 – An Act concerning out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drug coverage that places a limit on how much a patient will have to pay out of pocket for any one prescription drug.
LLS – like other patient advocacy organizations — is dedicated to supporting research into promising new therapies. That’s why LLS not only invests funds to accelerate innovative, life-saving treatments and cures for blood cancer, but we also work to ensure that blood cancer patients have access to the best available treatment today. We work to ensure that blood cancer patients can get the right care, at the right place, at the right time.
I would like to encourage all of those in the biosciences to contact lawmakers and educate them as to why this legislation is necessary.
About the Author Lynne Graziano Morin is the Sr. Manager, Field Advocacy and Outreach, for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). She works tirelessly to ensure that patients have access to the treatments they need to live longer, better, healthier lives. LLS drives policies here in Massachusetts, and across the country, that accelerate the development and approval of innovative treatments and ensure that patients have sustainable access to quality, affordable coordinated care.
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