2002 Promises Substance, Not Just Promise
By BENEDICT CAREY
LA TIMES HEALTH WRITER
December 31 2001
Some of the biggest breakthroughs in health care will likely involve prescription drugs. The coming year should bring fresh methods of treating severe depression, chronic pain and other disorders that affect millions of Americans, doctors say.
Cancer: Doctors are awaiting several novel compounds that block cancer's uncontrolled cell growth. Gleevec, for example, made its debut in May. A treatment for a rare but deadly form of leukemia, it was the first in an expected wave of new cancer treatments. "This drug is a landmark because the mechanism of action is entirely new, and it's not toxic like current therapies," said Kaitin. "Targeted approaches like this open up a tremendous number of doors for future drug development."
Despite these advances, high drug development costs--which now top $800 million--have prompted a consolidation within the pharmaceutical industry. "Companies are now concentrating on those few areas where they have a reputation, history and expertise," says Kaitin.