Drug makers join forces to find quickest breast cancer treatment

(NBC) - The government, drug companies and researchers teamed up to announce a new clinical trial that could shave years and millions off the cost of new breast cancer drugs.

Right now, it takes a billion dollars and 10 years or more to bring a new drug to market. Women dying of breast cancer don't have that much time.

Jessica Galloway was a mother of three small children when she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer.

"I was so terrified - I would've done anything," Galloway said. She joined a clinical trial that she believes saved her life and now part two of that trial, called "I-spy 2," is beginning.

"They'll be smaller, more efficient, which means we get drugs to patients much faster," said Anna Barker of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers have learned every breast cancer is different. Drugs that work for some women, are completely ineffective in others.

So in this trial, they're using genetic biomarkers to test five drugs and create treatments specific to each patient. It's personalized medicine, that could bring experimental treatments available to high-risk women much sooner.

"When you're diagnosed, you need something now," said patient advocate Jane Perlmutter.

"You don't have 10 years for the next drug to come out. All these drugs are in the pipeline but there's no efficient way to test them," said breast cancer surgeon Laura Esserman.

The FDA's involved to fast-track treatments that work. "Trying to find the right drug for the right patient. That's so important with cancer, because these drugs are so toxic," said Janet Woodcock of the Food and Drug Administration.

And the three drug companies involved are sharing data so when there's a breakthrough other manufacturers will have a road-map for creating more life-saving treatments.

The trial will cost $26 million and last five years.

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