FDA approves cell therapy for aggressive form of Lymphoma

May 03, 2018 - 9:25 am

By Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- A medication developed in part by the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has been approved by the FDA to treat an aggressive form of Lymphoma. It's called Kymriah, and it's made by taking patients' T-cells, or immune cells, from the blood, genetically altering them in the laboratory, and placing them back in the patient's body. The modified cells then act like soldiers to attack malignant blood cells. 

The drug was first approved last summer for a type of advanced pediatric leukemia. Now it's available for the most common form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

This is an example of personalized medicine, but here's the problem: The cost is more than $300,000. When you add the cost of hospitalization, it could be as high as $1 million. We are at a precarious time in medicine. There's a dramatic opportunity to save lives, but how much profit needs to be made by the companies that provide the treatment?