01 December 2008

Innovation failure

Irina Vlasova, Gazeta

The fate of cancer patients depends on the appearance of new drugs that are practically unavailableA three-day seminar on the prospects of treating cancer patients in Russia has ended in the Moscow region.

The event was organized by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Pharmacologists and practitioners discussed a number of problems existing in the field of anti-cancer drugs, as well as in the field of prevention and treatment of oncological diseases in both adults and children.

Professor of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology of the Russian State Medical University, Chairman of the Expert Council on Healthcare under the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy and Healthcare Vitaly Omelyanovsky linked the problems that Russia is experiencing in creating innovative medicines with failures in personnel policy, the loss of medical schools and traditions professionally, as well as with the failure between academics and graduate students. After the loss of the Soviet healthcare system, the Russian system copies the Western one. Therefore, it is impossible to do without creating stricter standards for the treatment of patients.

A number of unsuccessful decisions of the organizers of healthcare, according to the expert, led many to the idea that healthcare reform in the Russian Federation "should go slowly, without cataclysms."

A feature of the introduction of pharmaceutical innovations in Russia will be the emphasis on drugs with a new metabolism, new forms and methods of delivery of the active molecule to the diseased organ. Scientists and clinical pharmacologists predict a great future for biological drugs and so-called "multipili" drugs that treat several diseases simultaneously. According to the scientists' forecast, investments in nanotechnology in pharmacy will reach $7.5 billion by 2015.

It is likely that in 15-20 years all the information about the patient's health status, the database of his analysis results for a lifetime will be stored in a chip embedded, for example, in the frame of glasses. In a few minutes, both the attending physician and the hospital waiting for the patient will be able to receive all the data. However, today it is far from such forms, even in the creation of 200 new innovations by 2020, which is declared by the program for the revival of the domestic pharmaceutical industry, Professor Omelyanovsky hardly believes. According to experts, the regulatory framework and guarantees that after serious investments the state guarantees preferences under state programs are not enough to create innovations.

"Today it is no secret why cardiology is developing in one region as a priority, and surgery, for example, in another," said Sergey Abashin, chief researcher of the Oncology Department of the Federal Research and Clinical Center for Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology. "This means that the medical lobby of this profile in this region turned out to be closer to the leadership of the region." And in oncology, more than anywhere else, the issue of cure depends on the availability of innovations: 72% of medicines in this area are scientific novelties.

Detection of tumors at an early stage remains a problem, as well as the condition of cancer dispensaries, and the laboratory base as a whole. Today, in general, technologically, Russia has equaled the treatment of malignant tumors with the West. The security of the service leaves much to be desired. There are no less problems in the organization of palliative care for cancer patients, its infrastructure is insufficient.

According to experts, scientific breakthroughs can be expected quite quickly in rheumatology. But in assessing the rapid prospects of oncovaccines, scientists are very cautious: there is too little experience of application and the long-term consequences are unknown. In the meantime, poor adherence to treatment carries particular risks for patients. Many patients resort to medical help when it is already too late, and they are irresponsible about appointments.

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