Medical Patents: Can We Reduce Side Effects in Prostate Cancer Patients?

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    Medication accounts for a great majority of medical patents, though every medication has its side effects. There’s no doubt medicine is saving lives and yet there are clear medical patent opportunities to minimize the risks associated with them. The main difficulty, as you in the medical community may be aware, is that medication is designed to handle a specific issue within the body. However, everything within the body is connected and the challenges in treating one area without impacting any other is significant.

 

    One such area where improvements are needed is in treating prostate cancer as a new study describes the difficulties patients have in selecting the treatment plan with the lowest side effects (AP via CNN Health). The study, published on March 19, 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine, studied four prostrate cancer treatments: surgery, standard radiation, radioactive seeds (for patients in the early stages), and hormone therapy.

 

    The side effects of the various treatments were related to sexual and urinary complications. Hormone therapy in combination with radiation "had a big effect on men’s vitality and sexuality." Similarly, radioactive pellets created sexual problems, as well as "discomfort in urinating." Surgery, too, impacted sexual performance and a small percentage had trouble with incontinence one to two years after the surgery. Bowel problems, such as rectal pain and a higher frequency of trips to the bathroom were associated to varying degrees with the treatment plans. And, this is, in fact, my point: while the side effects I’ve described varied depending on the therapy used, they were present with all of them.

 

    Looking ahead, I’m wondering where medical patent innovation may take us, where we may find remedies, in medicine and otherwise, that reduce or eliminate side effects. And, I specifically wonder whether taking a more holistic, systemic view in the treatment of any medical issue may lead to medical patent innovations and developments that will help us recover and thrive.

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