Advancing Cancer Research

Seeking Patient-Centered Solutions to Fight Cancers

10.24.13 | By John Castellani

How can we continue to advance cancer research and improve patient outcomes in an era of cost containment?  The issue was recently highlighted in a New York Magazine article that only provided part of the story on cancer progress and cost containment.  Last week I had the opportunity to tackle this question as part of a roundtable that convened leaders from across the cancer community.

The Roundtable discussion, convened by the Turning the Tide Against Cancer Initiative, offered more thoughtful, patient-centered solutions.  The forum brought together patients, physicians, payers, academic medical centers, health economists, and pharmaceutical and diagnostic innovators. While we didn’t agree on everything, several central themes emerged that I hope will spur continued dialogue.

The first was, simply, the importance of sustaining progress against cancer. Recent treatment advances have significantly contributed to increases in patient life expectancy and we can make continued gains in the future. Biopharmaceutical research companies have nearly 1,000 medicines in development for cancer, including many personalized therapies targeted to specific patient groups. Advances like these can be a solution not only for patients with unmet needs, but for the cost challenges we face. As one health insurance executive stated in last year’s Turning the Tide report we can transform cancer care in the years ahead the same way we’ve transformed treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Another theme was the importance of fostering a cancer care ecosystem grounded in good evidence and incentives for better outcomes. And, as highlighted in a recent American Cancer Society blog, cancer care also needs to foster personalized medicine and maintain a patient-centered focus.  

Finally, accelerating progress against cancer will require partnership and collaboration across the cancer community. PhRMA remains committed to continuing and building on this conversation and working cooperatively to ensure future progress in oncology treatment and care.

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