Health November 30, 2015

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HEALTH • November 30, 2015 23 Urgent Care Leominster provides convenient walk-in services for individuals of all ages. Our dedicated clinical team, provides exceptional care for everyone. • No appointments needed • Open weekends & extended hours • Lower cost compared to emergency room visits • Accessibility • Quality of care • Onsite Lab & Radiology (X-Ray) services • Most insurance plans accepted • Free parking Monday–Friday: 8am–8pm Saturday, Sunday & Holidays: 9am–5pm (Except Thanksgiving and Christmas) • Minor burns or injuries • Sprains and strains • Coughs, colds, and sore throats • Ear aches • Allergic reactions (non life-threatening) • Fever or flu-like symptoms • Rash or other skin irritations • Mild asthma • Animal bites • Broken bones Our Treatments We treat non-life threatening illnesses and injuries such as: Urgent Care Leominster accepts all major insurance plans and Medicare 510 North Main Street, Leominster, MA 01453 Phone: 978-466-8820 Fax: 978-466-8821 website: Urgent Care Leominster is NOT an emergency room. If you are experiencing serious symptoms, please dial 911 or proceed directly to the UMass Memorial - HealthAlliance Hospital Emergency Room. Pricey biologics offer more promise than traditional drugs T he cost of prescription drugs is a hot-button issue and an important public policy matter to consider. In doing so, it's vital to understand the fundamental differ- ence between traditional pharmaceu- ticals and the newer class of medicines called biologics. Biologics are more complex and expensive to make, but they have a far greater capacity to treat serious dis- eases. That's why biologics are begin- ning to dominate the industry's R&D pipeline. Traditional drugs like aspirin or statins that lower cholesterol are chemical formulations made directly by pharmaceutical companies. Biologics, like insulin or the revolu- tionary rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira (developed right here in Worcester) are made within living cells then harvested and purified. Think of it as the difference between baking cookies in your kitchen and growing tomatoes in your garden. To bake cookies you mix the ingre- dients, portion out the dough and apply heat. If you follow the recipe precisely, you will get the same kind of cookies each time. To enjoy a ripe garden tomato, however, you must first establish a living organism (the plant) and rely on it to be the factory. You must nurture the plant's growth, guard against pests and pathogens, feed and water appropriately, and over time, if all goes well, you will harvest an edible tomato. When we extend this analogy to FDA approved medicines, imagine having to grow an acre's worth of identical plants that all produce iden- tical tomatoes. To succeed, you must monitor and control every element of the environment that affects the plants' growth. Then you must verify that every tomato you harvest is iden- tical to the approved strain and is free of contamination. Biologic drug makers use geneti- cally engineered cells as the factories to make a specific therapeutic protein which is then harvested and purified. At every step of the process, from research and development, to scaling up from a single cell to full scale pro- duction, biologics are far more com- plicated, require more process steps and environmental controls, and are therefore more expensive to bring to market. Studies show it can take $1 billion and up to 10 years of develop- ment and clinical testing to get a new biologic approved by the FDA. Given their cost and complexity, why are biologics the fastest growing segment of the drug development pipeline? The answer is simple: they can treat more diseases, in different ways, and more effectively than is pos- sible with traditional pharmaceuticals. Over time, technology advances will help lower the cost of biologics to some degree. The latest trend, which we are incorporating in our biomanu- facturing training programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is single-use technologies in the manu- facturing platform rather than more expensive stainless steel equipment. This removes some costs for manufac- turers and enables creating smaller batches of drugs for targeted popula- tions in a more economical way. Every day we learn more about specific molecules in our bodies that cause disease. Nearly all of those molecules are untouchable by tradi- tional pharmaceuticals, but all are potentially reachable with biologics. Diseases caused by the lack of a vital molecule (think Type 1 diabetes) can be treated with biologic replacement therapy. We are at the beginning of a bio- logics revolution in medicine. To take full advantage of the emerging sci- ence and develop better treatments for cancer, Alzheimer's disease and many other serious conditions, we have to understand the economics of biologics and invest in the technolo- gy that brings these life-saving medi- cines to people. Kamal Rashid is a research professor and director of the Biomanufacturing Education & Training Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. HEALTH CARE INNOVATION By Kamal Rashid

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