Every September, the healthcare, life sciences, and patient advocacy communities mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month, a time to focus on raising awareness about leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and other cancers that affect the blood or bone marrow.
More than 60,000 people are diagnosed with a blood cancer each year, representing over 3 percent of all cancers, according to federal data. The 5-year survival rate currently sits at 65.7 percent, meaning approximately 24,000 people will succumb to blood cancers in 2022.
Fortunately, mortality rates are decreasing over time as breakthrough treatments bring hope and help to people living with blood cancers. Thanks to incredible innovation in our ability to collect, analyze, and apply data-driven insights to pharmaceutical development, we now have a number of new tools to treat blood cancers more effectively.
New treatment options, such as immunomodulatory drugs, CELMoDs, and CAR-Ts are revolutionizing standards of care that haven’t changed for decades.
The industry-leading work of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) is a perfect example of how blood cancer treatment is rapidly evolving for the better. Just this summer, BMS announced FDA approval of Breyanzi, a CAR-T therapy for the treatment of several types of lymphoma in adult patients.
In the drug’s Phase 3 TRANSFORM trial, a single infusion of Breyanzi significantly outperformed the standard of care in use for nearly 30 years, increasing median event-free survival time from 2.3 months to 10.1 months.
With the broadest patient eligibility of any CAR-T therapy, the new drug opens up options for patients with certain aggressive or relapsed cancers who might not otherwise be candidates for additional treatments.
The availability of Breyanzi follows the landmark approval of Abecma in 2021. Also in the CAR-T class, Abecma is aimed at patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have already undergone at least four prior forms of therapy. Close to three-quarters of patients experienced a response to the drug, including 29 percent of patients with a complete response.
The therapy is even more unique due to how it was developed: it is one of the first pharmaceuticals to incorporate a real-world data (RWD) cohort into its successful FDA submission, providing important lessons to the rest of the industry about how RWD can be used to bring game-changing treatments to patients in urgent need.
These and other advances across the life sciences and clinical care ecosystems are radically changing the way patients experience the blood cancer journey, making it increasingly possible to survive longer and live better with a cancer diagnosis. We are constantly inspired by the scientific rigor and innovative approaches that have enabled such progress and hope for blood cancer patients.
At COTA, we are proud to be a part of these transformative efforts. We work closely with our partners in life sciences and clinical care to generate, aggregate, and curate high-value RWD to keep redefining success in the cancer care environment.
Each Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we have something new to celebrate – and new goals to pursue. It’s gratifying to take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments yet humbling to think about how much more we must do for patients and their families.
As we relentlessly pursue a brighter future for blood cancer patients, we are eager to continue collaborating across the industry to achieve even more exciting and impactful milestones over the next twelve months and beyond.