Oct 2, 2019

Gene therapies' accessibility problem

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Adapted from PwC Health Research Institute; Graphic: Axios Visuals

Gene therapies are physically out of reach for many patients, on top of their cost, according to a new PwC Health Research Institute report.

Why it matters: This further exacerbates the rural-urban divide in access to care.

By the numbers: The report looks at 4 treatments approved in the U.S. In 13 states, none of the 4 treatments were available, as of July. And there are only 5 zip codes nationwide in which all 4 are available.

Between the lines: These treatments can be prohibitively expensive even for patients with access to them.

  • The gene therapy Zolgensma is the most expensive drug in the world, with a list price of $2.1 million.
  • There are also affordability questions surrounding CAR-T, as hospitals often aren't fully compensated for the cost of administering it.

What we're watching: There are 30 gene therapies in late-stage testing, per PwC, and the number of clinical trials has grown rapidly over the last decade.

Go deeper: The real drug pricing debate is upon us

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AI reshapes how doctors treat breast care patients

An algorithm is helping researchers map the medical history of breast cancer patients so they can better predict, treat and maybe even prevent it, The New York Times reports.

The big picture: This database covers more than 100,000 patients over 30 years, from Massachusetts General hospital. That's a lot more data than oncologists can get from clinical trials, the Times notes.

Go deeperArrowOct 25, 2019

Four health care questions for a better Democratic debate

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

If tonight’s Democratic debate is anything like the earlier ones, it will feature an extended back-and-forth about whether to eliminate private health insurance, and then move on from health care. But there’s a whole lot more that’s also worth asking about.

The big picture: We basically know what the candidates will say about the question of private insurance, because they’ve said it all before. So here are four other questions that might also help illuminate the choice voters face on such a deeply personal, wildly complex topic.

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019

Medtech's quick-fix addiction

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Some technologists look at the pileup of crises weighing down American health care — overworked doctors, overpriced treatments, wacky health record systems — and see an opportunity to overhaul the industry, which could save lives and make them money.

Yes, but: There's frequently a chasm between can-do engineers itching to rethink health care and the deliberate doctors and nurses leery of tech that can make their lives more complicated, or worse, harm their patients.

Go deeperArrowOct 5, 2019