The Lynx Group

Biomarker Testing Trends in Europe Linked to Availability of Specific Targeted Cancer Drugs

June 2015, Vol 6, No 5

Philadelphia, PA—In an era of personalized care, targeted cancer therapies are on the rise and are expected to reach nearly 60% of the global oncology and hematology drug markets by 2017. By testing for genetic biomarkers, physicians can predict patient response to cancer therapy and identify patients who will benefit most from these treatments, thus serving the 2 purposes of increasing the efficiency of treatment decisions and reducing the use of unnecessary drug prescribing and the associated costs.

A recent multicountry, multicenter retrospective review by Siva Narayanan, MSc, MHS, Senior Vice President, Global Evidence, Value and Access, Ipsos Healthcare, Washington, DC, and colleagues, assessed and compared the rate of biomarker testing in breast cancer, metastatic non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) in the 4 European Union (EU4) countries (ie, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain) and the United Kingdom. The results of the study were presented at the 2015 International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research annual meeting.

Using online physician panels, the researchers recruited treating physicians from the EU4 countries and the United Kingdom. The physicians identified 10 to 25 patients in each of the 3 disease cohorts who were receiving anticancer regimens, and reported the patients’ biomarker status, namely, HER2, EGFR, and KRAS mutations linked to breast cancer, NSCLC, and metastatic CRC, respectively.

The study results showed that testing for HER2 breast cancer in the EU4 countries had increased from 70% in 2004 to 97% by 2013. Conversely, testing for HER2 breast cancer in the United Kingdom was lagging, with only 23% of patients having undergone such genetic testing in 2004, but testing rates reached 98% in 2013.

Similar to HER2 testing, testing for EGFR mutations in patients with NSCLC was also lagging in the United Kingdom compared with the other 4 European countries, particularly between 2009 and 2012; however, UK testing for EGFR mutations caught up in 2013, with 62% of patients undergoing testing in the United Kingdom and the EU4 countries.

Although the gap in HER2 and EGFR testing eventually closed in 2013 between the 2 groups, this was not the case for KRAS testing.

The results showed that testing for KRAS mutations in patients with NSCLC in the EU4 countries increased from 61% in 2009 to 92% in 2013, but significantly lagged in the United ­Kingdom, with 6% of patients under­going testing in 2009 and 62% being tested in 2013.

The researchers concluded that factors impacting biomarker testing trends need to be thoroughly evaluated to improve patient care via targeted oncology drugs. Furthermore, the researchers postulated that “the testing rates may be linked to the availability and approval of the associated targeted agents; the delay in biomarker testing, especially in the UK, may be correlated to the delay in corresponding product approvals.”

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