“I won’t rest until we manage to deliver solutions that make blood cancer a manageable or even curable condition.” - Dr Catherine Taylor, Therapy Area Lead; Haemotology; Janssen Oncology; Europe, Middle East, Africa.
This is the personal pledge I've made as part of EFPIA's #WeWontRest campaign. It's a campaign which recognises the work of individuals, teams and companies to discover and develop new medicines to make the world a healthier place for everyone.
Today in Europe, cancer remains the second leading cause of premature death,[i] with an estimated 3.45 million new cases of the disease (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) and 1.75 million deaths from cancer in 2012.[ii] It represents one of the greatest health challenges of our time.
I made my pledge because of the work I am part of at Janssen Oncology, where we focus our efforts on solving unmet medical needs by discovering first-of-a-kind, innovative medicines for cancers where there are limited treatment options. I made this pledge because we work to go one step further by striving to find ways to detect cancer in its earliest stages and intervene before it fully develops in the body, with a process known as cancer interception.
The growing need for innovative treatments is felt particularly strongly in the UK, where shifts in both the political and regulatory landscapes have led to a noticeable disparity between cancer therapy availability here and in the rest of Europe. The consequences of Brexit for the UK's access to novel therapies, particularly if negotiations involve departure from the European Medicines Agency, are as yet unknown. This, combined with the stringent requirements of the NICE appraisal process and yet-to-be-implemented findings of the Government's Accelerated Access Review (AAR), mean that new cancer treatments face a challenging environment to reach approval.
This uncertain landscape only increases the need to produce best-in-class research and solutions that will offer effective treatments for this devastating disease. This cannot be achieved alone. Partnerships are essential to drive change, innovation and transformation and we understand that no one company or single institution can solve the challenges of cancer. However, by bringing the finest scientific minds together from across academia, clinical practice, patient advocates and industry, we may one day together transform cancer into a preventable or curable disease.
At Janssen, we continue to pursue the cancers we know best – prostate cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer and, my area of focus, haematological malignancies. This September marks Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Blood cancers affect blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system and comprise approximately seven percent of all cancers diagnosed worldwide.[iii] Despite this, there is a lack of awareness and little public profile. That's why we launched Make Blood Cancer Visible, a campaign to give patients with rare cancers, often under-served or misunderstood, a voice in the world.
While the campaign aims to raise awareness of the personal stories of blood cancer patients, we recognise that every patient with cancer faces a unique journey. Helping them, and those who support them, to overcome the challenges they face is both our mission and our privilege. Enabling those affected by cancer to enjoy more of life's meaningful moments: these are the Victories over Cancer that make our work worthwhile. This is why I work towards making my pledge a reality every day.
Find out more about Janssen's 'Make Blood Cancer Visible' campaign here.
This blog was authored by Dr Catherine Taylor, Therapy Area Lead; Haemotology; Janssen Oncology; Europe, Middle East, Africa. It forms part of our ongoing #WeWontRest campaign.
[i] World Health Organisation. The European health report 2012: charting the way to well-being. 2012. Last accessed: March 2017.
[ii] Ferlay J, et al. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. European Journal of Cancer. 2013;49:1374–1403.
[iii] World Cancer Research Fund International. Worldwide Data. Available at: http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/worldwide-data Last accessed: August 2017