AVBCC 2016 Conference Highlights

Conference Correspondent - AVBCC 2016

Cancer Moonshot

Gary Palmer, MD, JD, MBA, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, NantHealth, spoke of the Cancer Moonshot goal of getting 20,000 patients on trials across 20 tumor types. He spoke of the inadequacy of single-targeted treatment, and how he has seen short-lived responses to targeted therapies. He spoke of the frustration of seeing a relapse of myeloma after a patient successfully underwent treatment where tumors disappear, only to have them reappear again. However, Dr Palmer was excited for the further development of natural killer cells. “We can increase their efficacy; there is a protein on the surface, and we can engineer them to have this type of appearance,” stated Dr Palmer. “We can also attach the antibodies so they will be drawn to certain antigens on the cancers cells; we have the ability to grow these in vitro,” he stated.

The Future of Cancer Care: A Government Perspective

Michael Kolodziej, MD, National Medical Director, Managed Care Strategy, Flatiron Health, spoke about some of the payers’ programs and their approach to oncology. He believes government, specifically Medicare, will play a vital role in the Oncology Care Model. As a former Aetna employee, Dr Kolodziej offered an insider’s perspective and analysis of the various programs, including the positives and negatives. He segued into talking about the patient-centered medical home concept, and his belief that data will help patients and oncologists alike because data will inform treatment decisions.

Cancer Care Current and Future Drug Trends

Clifford Hudis, MD, Chief Executive Officer, American Society of Clinical Oncology, wanted to take a wider perspective of his topic to include screenings. “Cancer is more than pushing drugs on people,” said Dr Hudis. He talked about the latest cancer incidence and mortality rates, including remarking on the rise in survival rates. “I believe we need to get that message out,” remarked Dr Hudis about the importance of the value of cancer care. He spoke of the anticipated trends, including the aging population, tobacco control, and obesity. The year of introduction had the greatest influence on drug prices, explained Dr Hudis. He talked about the promise of big data, but mentioned that only about 3% of cancer patients are involved in clinical trials.

Cancer Moonshot: The Patient Perspective

Whereas previous speakers brought the payer and clinical perspectives about this important federal government initiative, Kim Thiboldeaux, Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Support Community, brought the patient voice to the table with her presentation. She stated that only 3% of cancer patients are involved in clinical trials, and that as many as 25% of cancer patients could be eligible for trials. Ms Thiboldeaux pointed out a patient misconception that they could receive a placebo during a clinical trial. She stressed the importance of giving patients more information about how trials are conducted. Her organization counseled some patients, and after a 30-minute session, 9% of the patients signed up for clinical trials.