Dr. Bruce Bloom, January 6, 2014

Bruce E. Bloom

Medicine and health is always in an evolution, and these days it is often evolving in opposite directions at the same time.  Health declines or improves because of behavioral changes, depending on whether you have adopted a sedentary lifestyle or started eating a healthier diet-or both at the same time!  Health improves or declines because we change medical care.  Technology brings us earlier diagnoses and more powerful treatments, but we’ve lost some of the healing power that a physician can bring to a patient because of time and regulation constraints.   

Medicine and health sometimes switch into revolution mode: new scientific discovery and new technology often leads the way.  This is what could be called “Revolution by Innovation.”  Revolution by Innovation is important because it brings with it significant solutions on a shorter time scale.  Yet today, despite all the new scientific and technological discovery, we don’t seem to be in a time of medical and health Revolution by Innovation.  We just seem to be in a period of innovation without the revolutionary impact on patients we would expect.

Perhaps this is a time for “Revolution by Renovation” in medicine and health.  Revolution by Renovation is when we make significant change by going back to what worked in the past.  We are starting to see a Revolution by Renovation in urban living-what made cities work many decades ago is starting to be recycled to make cities work again.  The same thing is happening in education-with all the technological advancements, the biggest gains are being made in schools where quality educators and administrators are working with involved parents to make sure kids are learning the basics.

What about in medicine and health? Medical systems that are thriving today do use the latest discoveries and innovation, but they use it in a healthcare system that leverages healthcare provider coordination and conversation, frequent contact with and involvement of patients, searching for and treating the cause of a disease instead of reducing the symptoms-all part of a Revolution by Renovation.

There is also a Revolution by Renovation in medical research.  While the vast majority of medical research is still trying to create success through New Discovery Research, there is a growing and successful Repurposing Revolution, taking medicine and science that already exists for one disease and finding “new” uses for these drugs, devices and nutriceuticals in different diseases.  Cures Within Reach has been pushing this medical research Revolution by Renovation for many years and we’re being joined by almost every sector of healthcare. 

Small biotechs are seeing the value of repurposing existing drugs.  Small to midsize pharma companies, like Horizon Pharmaceuticals, are doing good and doing well through repurposing.  Most big pharma companies are mining their patent protected and shelved compounds for repurposing opportunities.  Disease specific non-profits like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Michael J. Fox Foundation have ventured into the Repurposing Revolution.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of repurposing ideas waiting to be funded at top academic research institutions.  And physicians in clinical practice are finding new uses for existing drugs all the time-depending on what statistic you believe, 20% or more of prescriptions in the US are written off label, which is an “in the trenches” repurposing of an existing drug for a new use.  And this clinician repurposing is even higher in pediatric and mental health medicine.

Sometimes the best way to rapidly move forward is to leverage what worked in the past- a Revolution by Renovation.  This has never been more true in medicine and health than it is today.  The Repurposing Revolution is happening-come join us!

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