"One injection of 1.2 million yuan will make cancer cells disappear." Recently, China's first approved CAR-T drug screened the network.
Such professional medical terms are on the hot search, not only because the people are highly concerned about health, it also reflects that there is still a long way to go between the sky-high price "magic medicine" and the people's "medicine god".
The so-called CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Immunotherapy) drugs are generally explained by collecting the patient’s own T cells and modifying them in vitro through genetic engineering to turn them into a “super soldier” equipped with GPS. After being reinfused into the patient's body, it can effectively identify and kill tumor cells.
Compared with traditional surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, CAR-T therapy attacks tumor cells by mobilizing the patient's own immune system, bringing new choices and new hopes to cancer patients.
In June of this year, Fosun Kate's Akilunsai injection became China's first approved CAR-T drug.
In August of this year, the first domestic patient with lymphoma treated with this CAR-T drug was discharged from Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine.
According to media reports, Ms. Chen from Shanghai has been treated with Akilunza injection for more than a month and found that there are no cancer cells in the body temporarily. The symptoms have been completely relieved, but follow-up is still needed in the later period.
Online sales orders show that the retail price of Achilles injection is 1.2 million yuan per bag.
The curative effect of CAR-T is encouraging, but the sky-high price of 1.2 million yuan is also staggering.
The multiple choice question of good efficacy and high price is extremely heavy because it carries people's expectations for life and health.
How to treat the sky-high price "magic medicine"?
From the perspective of treatment principles, CAR-T is an individualized and customized medicine, and each product is derived from the patient's own T cells.
From blood sampling to reinfusion, a total of hundreds of steps have been taken.
A lot of resources need to be invested in each link, and each batch requires strict quality inspection.
Regardless of the large amount of research and development expenses that have been invested, high production costs in the initial stage are often unavoidable.
In fact, drug pricing is a "people's livelihood economics", and it is necessary to find a balance between drug efficacy, corporate profits and the affordability of the people.
Simply favoring either side will greatly reduce the "vitality" of the drug itself.
For CAR-T, there is still a lot of potential to tap the current cost reduction.
This includes accelerating the domestic substitution of imported excipients and consumables required for pharmaceutical production, promoting the transformation of self-carrying CAR-T to universal CAR-T through continuous technological research and development, introducing commercial insurance to reduce payment pressure, and so on.
By reducing costs and selling prices, allowing more patients to benefit, thereby further diluting manufacturing costs, the production and use of CAR-T products will enter a "positive feedback".
Finally, supervision must also create a good environment for the marketing and application of innovative drugs.
In recent years, the efforts of my country's drug regulatory authorities in the reform of drug review and approval are obvious to all, and the approval of the first CAR-T for marketing has also benefited from this.
However, approval is only the first step. From the launch of innovative drugs to the entry of hospitals and reaching patients, there are still a series of links to be opened up and roadblocks to be cleared.
Following Fosun Kate, the second domestic CAR-T developed by WuXi Juno has also been approved.
The entry of more "players" is conducive to creating a healthy competition environment.
At the same time, the expansion and maturity of the CAR-T market has also created conditions for future national medical insurance negotiations.
Innovative medicine is a big industry, but also a big people's livelihood.
As long as enterprises, society and the government work together, it will not be out of reach from the sky-high price "magic medicine" to the "magic medicine" of the people.
We expect that every life can be "treated with tenderness."
(He Xinrong and Gong Wen, commentators of this newspaper)Keywords: