August 27, 2019

Summer Reading Recap: What you missed in oncology & healthcare

As summer is coming to a close and everyone is returning from their summer vacations, we wanted to take the opportunity to review some key moments in the news from the last few weeks. Healthcare never takes a break – and innovation in the industry is no different. Read on to see what you may have missed… 

Clinical trial diversity is front and center.

A new study found that one-third of clinical trials conducted that led to the approval of new cancer drugs did not report on the race of the participants. Trials that did report on race had fewer black and Hispanic patients, and researchers found white patients were more likely to enter larger, randomized, later-stage trials with multiple arms, while minority groups were more likely to enter smaller, non-randomized trials with one arm. These findings raise questions about diversity in clinical trials and how researchers are recruiting patients for enrollment. Some experts argue that incorporating more real-world evidence into clinical research will support increased diversity. 

AI is beginning to show promise in specific areas.

In a diagnostic study of 240 breast biopsy images, the performance of an AI system was compared with independent interpretations from 87 practicing pathologists. In the study, the pathologists' sensitivity was .70, while the computer-based automated approach to interpreting breast pathology sensitivity was 0.88-0.89 in differentiating DCIS from atypia. While this doesn’t prove AI’s value in every use case, researchers are now looking to train the AI system to diagnose melanoma.

Value-based care remains an area of interest.

Cigna and Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center have launched a program to provide members with value-based, coordinated cancer care. Members would be assigned an oncology care coordinator, who is an MSK oncology RN, to manage their treatment. They would also be assigned a coordinator at Cigna to navigate their member benefits. This arrangement will distribute payment based on achieving goals for quality and cost, and Cigna has launched similar coordinated care programs with Scripps Health and Catalyst Health.

Genetic testing is playing an increasing role in cancer care.

Precision medicine has paved the way for new cancer treatments, as cancer patients are no longer just treated with the same chemotherapy and radiation regimen that they used to be. An article in Newsweek explores how genetic testing has allowed doctors to determine the best drugs or treatments for each patient. However, widespread adoption of these tools remains very low, even in patient groups that have a large probability of benefitting from this testing. 

Drugs are being approved faster than ever.

The Wall Street Journal details how most drugs are being released faster than ever through federal programs expediting their approval. The article notes the FDA approved a record 43 new drugs last year (73% of total new drugs) through fast-track programs that skip or shorten major steps other drugs must pass. That compares with 10 expedited drugs, or 38% of the total, approved 10 years ago. The incorporation of alternative data sources may be fueling this shift as it offers a more expensive data set than was previously available. 

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Next Article:
ASCO 2019 - How Precision Medicine and RWE Can Shape the Future of Oncology Care
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