Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Follicular Lymphoma: What's in the Pipeline?

The group PhRMA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (which represents the big pharmaceutical companies) issued a report last week called Medicines in Development: Leukemia and Lymphoma. Basically, it's a list of medicines currently in development for leukemia, the various lymphomas, and other blood cancers.

How many treatments are currently in development?

Over 240.

That includes 98 different treatments for lymphomas, including 7 that are listed specifically for Follicular Lymphoma (plus a whole lot more for indolent lymphomas, and more still for unspecified lymphomas, mostly in phase 1 trials).

That's pretty cool. It's impressive to see so many treatments in development in one place. More arrows in the quiver, indeed.

Now, I haven't spent too much time sifting through the particular treatments, but there are some things to keep in mind as you look at the report.

First, not all of these medicines will end up being approved for use. It's a pretty rigorous process, and it should be. There are many, many on this list that are in phase 1 clinical trials. It's not like they're going to be available next week. Only a small percentage will likely end up being approved, and it could take years before that happens.

Second, the number is inflated a little bit. A bunch of them have already been approved for one type of use, and they're in trials for a different use. For example, Bexxar and Zevalin are on the list. Zevalin has been approved as a consolidation therapy for Follicular Lymphoma, but it's on the list as "in development" because it's in trial for DLBCL and MCL, two other types of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Same for Treanda/Bendamustine. So a lot of the treatments listed aren't really "new," but they do have some potential new uses.

That said, even if 10% of these end up in the oncologist's office some day, that's still 24 more options than blood cancer patients have now.

There's also a video of a panel that discusses the report and the state of treatments in the pipeline, including a representative from PhRMA, someone from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a (multiple) lymphoma survivor. Worth a look and listen if you have an hour.


I have a 4 month check-up tomorrow with Dr. R. I don't anticipate any problems. I'm feeling good, and there haven't been any nodes popping up anyplace recently. I'll post an update tomorrow afternoon or Friday morning.

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