Jun 16, 2018

Go deeper: The new drugs and therapies keeping us alive longer

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Americans on average are dying sooner, largely due to the country’s opioid epidemic. But a number of medical advances are helping people who have chronic diseases live longer.

What’s working: Medical researchers and venture capitalists told Axios that these drugs and treatments have immensely helped patients, or could change the face of medicine shortly.

  • Hepatitis C drugs sold by Gilead Sciences and AbbVie essentially eradicate the virus in as few as two months, although side effects vary.
  • Immunotherapy treatments, such as CAR-T, give patients the chance to fight off cancer with modified versions of their own immune cells.
  • New gene therapies are attacking rare disorders, such as one treatment that reverses a rare form of blindness.
  • Gene-modifying systems like CRISPR are giving scientists hope of treating disease at the DNA level.
  • Newer diabetes treatments have been shown to slow the costly and crippling long-term disease.

Be smart: The price tags are huge, and we still don’t know about all of their long-term side effects. There are always tradeoffs in health policy, but a breakthrough drug or treatment may not be all that valuable if people can’t access or afford it.

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