Fall is upon us and so is the awards season. And I’m not talking about the Emmy’s (although kudos to Mad Men). Earlier this month the Lasker Foundation gave out its Basic Medical Research Award, its Lasker-deBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service (see the Lasker Foundation website for more information). Next week the Nobel Committee will announce its award winners.
But last night belonged to the Pharmaceutical Industry.
The Prix Galien USA celebrates innovation in American pharmaceutical sciences, and last night in the Whale Room of New York’s Museum of Natural History, the industry celebrated its best. Public television host Charlie Rose mc’d the proceedings, which included a speech by Elie Wiesel, winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and member of the Prix Galien USA committee. Wiesel lauded the audience for their humanitarian mission in improving the people’s health and lives.
Gerald Weissmann, committee chair of Prix Galien USA, and research professor at NYU School of Medicine, remarked on the important partnership between industry and academia. “The 2009 Prix Galien USA winners represent what is possible when basic scientific research translates to drug development and discovery,” he said.
The two winners of the Prix Galien USA Pro Bono Humanum Award shared their own hopes for the possibilities of pharmaceutical science. Awardee Barry Bloom, the Joan L. and Julius H. Jacobson professor of public health at the Harvard School of Public Health made an impassioned plea for funds for a tumor genome screening project, as a first step towards personalized, rational cancer care.
Awardee Jeffrey Sachs, director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University spoke of the need to provide basic interventions to address the health needs of people in the developing world.
The winners for pharmaceutical innovation are as follows:
Best Pharmaceutical Product:
Novartis Oncology, for Gleevec, a highly specific, rationally-designed drug to fight chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumor.
Best Biotechnology Product:
Two companies, Amgen for Nplate and GlaxoSmithKline for PROMACXT shared this award. The award-winning drugs both treat thrombocytopenic purpura by increasing blood platelets without causing unwanted effects in the immune system.
Best Medical Technology:
Veridex for CellSearch CTC Test, a device that isolates and identifies cancer cells circulating in whole blood of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer.
In a season where the US healthcare agenda and the pharmaceutical industry are undergoing intense national scrutiny, it’s nice to stop and take pause, and celebrate the very best of our scientific and medical achievements.
Congratulations to all of the innovators.
Visit Prix Galien’s website for more information.