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Goldman Sachs: Curing Cancer is NOT a 'Sustainable Business Model'

Global bank says curing patients is not profitable enough, unlike treating them

By: Jay Greenberg  |@NeonNettle
 on 19th April 2018 @ 12.25pm
goldman sachs says it s more profitable to treat sick people than cure them © press / Neon Nettle
Goldman Sachs says it's more profitable to treat sick people than cure them

Global banking giant Goldman Sachs has declared that curing patients of terminal illnesses, such as cancer, is not a "sustainable business model."

The investment firm also urged investors to resist backing pioneering "gene therapy" treatments as cures are bad for business in the long term.

In an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution," the worlds 5th largest bank asks: "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?"

Analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday says that long-term treatments garner far more revenue than "one-shot cures," saying:

"The potential to deliver 'one-shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy, and gene editing.

"However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies. 

"While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."

the report states that developing cures is  bad for business © press
The report states that developing cures is 'bad for business'

According to CNBC, Richter cited Gilead Sciences' treatments for hepatitis C, which achieved cure rates of more than 90 percent.

The company's U.S. sales for these hepatitis C treatments peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015, but have been falling ever since.

Goldman estimates the U.S. sales for these treatments will be less than $4 billion this year, according to a table in the report.

"GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients," the analyst wrote.

"In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines…

"Where an incident pool remains stable (eg, in cancer) the potential for a cure poses less risk to the sustainability of a franchise."

The analyst didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

it s far more profitable to treat patients in  the long term  rather than cure them © press
It's far more profitable to treat patients in 'the long term' rather than cure them

The report suggested three potential solutions for biotech firms:

"Solution 1: Address large markets: Hemophilia is a $9-10bn WW market (hemophilia A, B), growing at ~6-7% annually."

"Solution 2: Address disorders with high incidence: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) affects the cells (neurons) in the spinal cord, impacting the ability to walk, eat, or breathe."

"Solution 3: Constant innovation and portfolio expansion: There are hundreds of inherited retinal diseases (genetics forms of blindness)…

"Pace of innovation will also play a role as future programs can offset the declining revenue trajectory of prior assets."

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