Every 60 seconds, someone with cancer dies. But we can save lives faster if we speed up development and use of life-saving innovations. Here's how:
• Direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve new life-extending drugs for cancer, once Phase I studies show a high response rate. National Cancer Institute funding should be increased to support this approach.
• Increase funding for cancer prevention programs, including early detection and identification of genetic mutations that increase cancer risk.
• Require that the FDA, health plans and pharmaceutical companies accelerate access to and reduce the cost of experimental treatments for patients — especially children — who have run out of treatment options and can’t wait for, or are excluded from, clinical trials.
• Pass legislation that provides equal access and insurance coverage for all anti-cancer regimens and eliminates fail-first policies, which force patients to switch from one drug to another.
RAISE YOUR VOICE AGAINST CANCER!
We need to accelerate access to innovative therapies.
Each year a quarter of million people, many of them children, die from cancer or cancer related complications because of delay and indifference. Many have as little as a six percent chance of living five years and none have more than a 50 percent chance of living that long. Meanwhile, it takes two years just to put together a clinical trial to study potential treatments for cancer and another eight years to complete one. In the time it takes to organize a clinical trial over 200,000 people with cancer will die. By the time a clinical trial is finished, 2.5 million people, including 200,000 children with cancer will die.
Defenders of the status quo claim we need to go slow to ensure patient safety. But it is evident that millions of people are being protected to death. Since 1990, medical innovation has added 49 million life-years, worth nearly $4.9 trillion – but we can do better, faster. At the height of the movement to speed up access to HIV drugs, people living with HIV forced the Food and Drug Administration to dramatically slash the time required to study potential HIV medicines. These changes were made to allow patient’s maximum hope for cure and the opportunity for some control over our destiny.
Today, researchers and doctors know more about the underlying mechanisms of cancer than they did about HIV. It is now possible to deliver precise therapy to people on the basis of that individual's tumor. There are no two different cancers that are the same anywhere. Just like there are no two individuals who have the same DNA, that's the same for a tumor. And while HIV patients used notebooks and faxes to share data, today’s patients have the digital ability to learn, join, share and take part in advocacy and research faster than ever before. Yet, most cancer trials are conducted as if these technological advances did not exist. Studies ignore genetic differences and individual responses to treatments. People are herded into studies that replace a deep understanding of how to match medicines to tumors with randomized trials studies (including placebos) that assume everyone responds the same way and for the same amount of time. It’s as if we ignored someone’s shoe size and instead told people to try the average measurement instead. Such an approach and such delay is neither scientifically or morally supportable particularly to people living with a tumor type without effective therapies. We are bypassing the status quo to quickly test treatments for people infected with Ebola. Why aren't we taking the same approach with medicines for people dying from cancer?
OUR PROPOSAL TO SOLVING THIS PROBLEM:
We can give people with cancer more control over how research is carried out and let them share their data about what works best with each other and with researchers. By doing so, we can cut the time and money needed to develop personalized medicines and make sure we get the treatments that are best for each individual.