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Oncology's research boom

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Note from the editor

Since 2015, the Food and Drug Administration's main drug review office has approved nearly six dozen new cancer drugs, more than a quarter of the 260 medicines it cleared for market during that time span.

The long list of new treatments reflects the advent of cancer immunotherapy as well as continued progress in matching treatment to genetics. New drugs for lung, breast, skin and blood cancers have made gains over standard of care, while other additions have expanded options for patients.

Many of those new therapies, however, are getting cleared with less and less supporting evidence, at times lacking control group comparisons or evidence of a survival benefit over typical treatment.

Drugmakers and, largely, the FDA argue that the medicines now being reviewed are different than the chemotherapies and blunter interventions of the past. Targeted to genetic mutations, newer drugs can be given to only those patients most likely to benefit, meaning an experimental compound's effectiveness is more readily apparent.

While not all agree, that view is having consequences for how clinical trials are being run, and for how much money drugmakers are investing in cancer R&D. Hundreds of studies are being launched in research pivots by large pharmaceutical companies, which are aggressively targeting inventive biotechs via billion-dollar buyouts.

One new snag is COVID-19, which has disrupted researchers and doctors alike, potentially impacting years of progress in reducing deaths from cancer in the U.S.

Read on for a look at how cancer research is advancing and how it's changing the pharma and biotech sectors in the process.

Ned Pagliarulo Senior Editor

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Inside Oncology's Research Boom

The long list of new treatments reflects the advent of cancer immunotherapy as well as continued progress in matching treatment to genetics. New drugs for lung, breast, skin and blood cancers have made gains over standard of care, while other additions have expanded options for patients.

included in this trendline
  • Merck and Pfizer demonstrate how they tap sites for cancer trials
  • Impact of coronavirus on cancer research
  • Latest trends and challenges in cancer immunotherapy
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.