Sep 7, 2017

Value isn't just about surviving cancer

From our Expert Voices conversation on drug pricing.

The recent FDA approval of CAR T-cell therapy is a major milestone in the longstanding effort to cure childhood cancer, once almost uniformly fatal.

The problem: Today childhood leukemia is treatable in most cases and 80% of children survive longer than five years. Unfortunately, early exposure to radiation and chemotherapy can have devastating long-term health impacts for childhood cancer survivors. Up to a third of long-term survivors will suffer from at least one life-threatening or debilitating medical problem caused by their "curative" treatment, which can include secondary cancers, severe cardiovascular disease, infertility, and endocrine disorders. Thus, many are trading one difficult disease for a lifetime battling numerous health problems.

Why it matters: Because they selectively target tumor cells and spare normal cells, new therapies like CAR-T presumably will result in less damage to normal tissues and cause fewer long-term health problems. They offer incredible hope to a new generation of childhood cancer patients that they can not only be cured, but can look forward to a productive life without additional health burdens.

The bottom line: While the upfront cost of these new therapies are high, any consideration of value should take into account the health care savings generated by an overall healthier and productive population of childhood cancer survivors.

Other voices in the conversation:

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Private equity returns fell behind stocks over the past decade

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. private equity returns fell just below S&P 500 returns for the 10-year period ending last June, according to a report released Monday morning by Bain & Company.

Why it matters: Private equity markets itself as beating public markets over long-term time horizons, and usually providing an illiquidity premium to boot. These new performance figures not only dent such claims, but provide fresh ammunition to critics of public pension investment in private equity funds.

Why Apple may move to open iOS

Photo illustration: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple may finally allow iPhone owners to set email or browsing apps other than Apple's own as their preferred defaults, according to a Bloomberg report from last week.

The big picture: Customers have long clamored for the ability to choose their preferred apps, and now Apple, like other big tech companies, finds itself under increased scrutiny over anything perceived as anticompetitive.