Faster access to cancer drugs needed

February 12, 2013

Although generally satisfied with global cancer research progress, the public believes it takes too long for new cancer drugs to reach patients.

The public is generally satisfied with global cancer research progress over the past 20 years. However, they believe it takes too long for new cancer drugs to reach patients and that their countries invest too little in fighting cancer, according to a survey.

The survey, PACE (Patient Access to Cancer care Excellence) Cancer Perception Index: A Six-Nation, Public Opinion Survey of Cancer Knowledge and Attitudes, a Lilly Oncology initiative, polled 4,341 individuals from six countries-the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. PACE was created by Lilly Oncology as a global collaboration to encourage public policies and healthcare decisions that speed the development of new medicines, assure cancer treatments respond to the needs and qualities of individual patients, and improve patient access to the most effective cancer medicines. 

“We are at a pivotal point in the fight against cancer,” Newton F. Crenshaw, vice president, Lilly Oncology, says. “Current economic pressures are jeopardizing cancer progress. In light of the global recession, the overall environment for healthcare spending is tightening. Many countries are in the midst of healthcare reform that will result in even tighter cost constraints. To add to this, funding for oncology therapies is increasingly centered on new, innovative treatments, and the bar for that innovation is rising.”

According to the PACE Cancer Perception Index, while there was no consensus on how much should be spent on treatment in exchange for an extra year of life, 78% believe that patients and families, along with physicians, should decide on life-prolonging treatment. And, 72% believe that insurers should pay for this treatment.

“This is not surprising but the challenge exists,” Crenshaw says. “How can we secure the future of cancer innovation? The majority of the public-more than 80%-calls for more collaboration across borders and among all stakeholders.”

However, significant myths persist. For example, more than four out of 10 people worldwide believe that cancer is a single disease when in fact it is more than 200 different diseases. And 60% believe pharmaceutical companies are more interested in treating cancer than curing it. The public recognizes cancer progress, but wants faster results.

Strong majorities say it takes too long for new cancer medicines to reach patients. In all countries surveyed except Japan, most state that progress in cancer research will be slowed as a result of the poor economy.

 “The PACE effort and the survey are important for managed care and hospital decision-makers,” Crenshaw says. “They are among the key stakeholders that decide on patient access to cancer innovation, and this is something that PACE, working collaboratively with all stakeholders, is trying to protect.”