Global cancer survey: More investment, faster access to drugs needed

January 31, 2013

The public is generally satisfied with 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 a global survey.

 

The public is generally satisfied with 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 global 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, survey polled 4,341 individuals from 6 countries-the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. PACE was created by Lilly Oncology as a global collaboration, spanning diverse sectors, and exists 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, said. “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 said. “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,” he said.

Other key findings include:

• Public’s cancer IQ rising, but myths persist.

 

A near-majority does not think a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence, the United States is most optimistic (65% strongly disagree or disagree).

However, significant myths persist. For example, more than 4 out of 10 people worldwide believe that cancer is a single disease when in fact it is more than 200 different diseases. And 6 in 10 believe pharmaceutical companies are more interested in treating cancer than curing it. Public recognizes cancer progress, but wants faster results.

Nearly 3 in 5 surveyed say that they are satisfied with the progress made in the fight against cancer over the past 20 years. However, in every country but France, a majority or near majority thinks its country invests too little in fighting the disease.

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.

• High interest in clinical trial participation and sharing medical records abounds.

The public expresses willingness to be part of an improved clinical trial and drug development system. More than 70% say that patients need more opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

Eight in 10 cite a willingness to share medical records to further cancer research. Still, sizable minorities report concerns about potential misuse of data.

“Today, cancer is better understood than ever before, and some previously fatal cancers can now be controlled or even cured,” Crenshaw said. “But success comes in steps. In order to make giant leaps in the world of cancer care, we need to continue to value and encourage the small steps forward. Only then can we continue to see improvements that will one day lead to cures.”

PACE will focus on policies that will address the following issues:

•       Ensure that the voice of the patient is heard and heeded in decisions on the development, assessment, use, and payment of new treatments for cancer

•       Reform and revolutionize the design and conduct of clinical trials

•       Ensure that patients have faster access to cancer treatments that are most effective for them (the right medicine to the right patient)

•       Educate on the real value of cancer care and treatment, protecting the continuous steps forward in cancer innovation

“The PACE effort and the survey are important for managed care and hospital decision-makers,” Crenshaw said. “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.”