In my previous Medium essay, Disruption for Dummies, I predicted that high-tech gene therapeutics like the ones being developed by American Gene Technologies would not only provide functional cures for scores of deadly diseases, but would do so at significantly lower cost than current forms of treatment. The first part of that prediction, that gene therapies with the power to solve diseases are on the way, is indisputable. The second idea, that these drugs will do so more economically than traditional medicines, is, oddly enough, a harder sell for some skeptics, though it shouldn’t be. Read the original article at the link above if you want to see the logic laid out more comprehensively but, in a nutshell, the cost of a one-time gene therapy treatment that cures the disease is going to be far less expensive when compared to the costs of more traditional forms of treatment that can only hope to manage that disease or slow its deadly effects, sometimes over a period of decades.
It is the nature of high tech to drive up value and drive down cost.
As I asserted in my original essay, the revolution that is coming will be helped along by multiple factors, including rapidly falling costs of manufacturing and delivering these new drugs. That’s how high-tech transforms industries, it drives up value and drives down cost. For the first time ever in drug development, high tech is set to break down some of the typical barriers to unlocking huge value at reasonable prices.
The latest example of that disruption was revealed just last week with the announcement of a new “gene therapy in a box” device developed at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center in Seattle. The new device, an altered version of an existing instrument made by Miltenyi Biotec, has a footprint that is 99% smaller than the instrument it replaces, requires far fewer trained personnel to operate, completes the process in 60% less time, and promises to provide gene therapy treatments at a fraction of the current costs. This means that gene therapy is already getting leaner and meaner, and before the first drugs have even reached the market. Look for that trend to accelerate going forward. That innovative, entrepreneurial spirit is going to result in cures that will be available not only to a select few lucky enough to live in first-world countries, but to everyone, everywhere.
Believe it. It’s happening. This is only the beginning. Watch this space for updates.