The rise of personalised medicines – how can advocates move with the advancing treatment landscape?
Last year saw the progress of personalised and targeted treatments in the industry, and it has once again shown to be one of the most exciting developments in cancer care. However, this evolving treatment landscape presents particular challenges for patients and their healthcare providers, one which advocates are well placed to meet.
Personalised medicines can be significantly more expensive than the current standard of care. As a result, access to innovative medicines can be a challenge for patients, as witnessed earlier this year, seeing life-extending drugs get rejected by regulation bodies on cost grounds alone. And price is not the only factor contributing to restricted access – as treatments become more complex, patients become more confused and struggle to understand what treatments are available and what options they have. The more confusing the therapy options, the more overwhelmed they feel, and the less willing they are to seek out their doctor and discuss treatment – leaving them untreated by these innovative therapies that could help them.
Advocates must be able to communicate not only the need for new treatments, but also the very real benefits of these targeted medicines and the value they bring to quality of life, as well as any wider economic benefits such as reduced healthcare utilisation. They can communicate this through:
- Assessment vehicles such as health technology assessments (HTA) to review, assess or recommend drugs, involving patients in the process, as participants
- Providing education and support for patients on the types of treatments available, and how to talk with their healthcare team to decide which treatment is right for them
- Collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders, including other advocacy groups, healthcare professionals and industry, in order to generate a louder voice and work together with the industry to address these new challenges
The treatment landscape is rapidly evolving into an ever more complex environment, so it is clear that advocates must move with the landscape in order for patients to truly benefit from the most innovative medicines of today.