September 2014, Vol 3, No 6

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The Personalized Medicine Coalition and Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation

Edward Abrahams, PhD

The Last Word

Although we no longer talk about a “war on cancer,” there is one part of the metaphor that remains useful. In a military campaign, we employ multiple weapons against the enemy. So too in our effort to combat cancer, or the over 200 identifiable forms of that disease that will kill more than 600,000 Americans annually, we need to deploy all the resources at our disposal, just as we would if we were in a war.

That imperative has focused the attention of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) on the many public policies that can and do either accelerate or impede progress against cancer in addition to increasing funding for basic research.

If we are serious about taking advantage of the recent breakthroughs in our ability to understand the molecular pathways of cancer as well as the new tools that have been developed to precisely diagnose the disease, we have to consider all the multiple variables that determine how quickly the new basic science is translated into better clinical care. Facilitating targeted and more effective cancer treatments depends on it.

The challenge of sustaining progress against cancer in an era of significant cost constraints has defined our thinking, and shaped an initiative that PMC, together with the American Association for Cancer Research and Feinstein Kean Healthcare, calls Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation.

Two overarching questions define this initiative. First, how do we support the ongoing and promising shift away from one-size-fits-all, trial-and-error treatment to patient-centered cancer research and care that rests on the principles of personalized medicine? Issues for consideration include identifying research efforts that generate evidence that leads to better outcomes for patients; increasing patient engagement in value-based decision-making at the point of care; and developing more effective tools for measuring outcomes important to patients.

Second, in a new era of constrained budgets and the escalating price of new cancer drugs, how do we address the issue of the value of research and cancer care? Here the issues for consideration include refining tools for assessing value, especially to the patient but also to the health system generally; what incentives can be put in place to encourage innovation and medical progress; and what kinds of evidence do we need to better inform payment and coverage decisions, including alternative payment models that align with emerging science.

With policy makers, drug developers, payers, physicians, scientists, and patients, PMC, along with its partners, will host a second conference in a continuing series to consider these opportunities and challenges on October 9 at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC. In addition to defining the issues, we will also outline a number of policy recommendations for consideration, which we contend can and will make an enormous difference in the future of cancer research and care.

Please join us in Washington on October 9. For more information about the conference or to register, please go to www.turningthetideagainstcancer.org.

Uncategorized - September 23, 2014

ASCO Workgroup Proposes Consolidated Payments for Oncology Care

Calling the current fee-for-service re­imbursement model “medicine’s dark secret” – one that has jeopardized value-based cancer care – a member of the ASCO Payment Reform Workgroup presented a novel proposal for consolidated cancer care at the Community Oncology Town Hall. “Working towards a better payment system for oncology care, instead [ Read More ]

Immunotherapy - September 23, 2014

FDA Approves Pembrolizumab for Advanced Melanoma

First PD-1 Blocking Drug to Receive Agency Approval The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval to pembrolizumab for the treatment of patients with advanced or unresectable melanoma who are no longer responding to other drugs. Melanoma, which accounts for approximately 5% of all new cancers in the [ Read More ]