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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Changing the Game Against Cancer – Time for New Thinking

The former CEO and President of Eli Lilly offers thoughts on changing the game against cancer in a Wall Street Journal op-ed article. The game plan, he says, should NOT depend on the same old, same old waiting for perfect information. Instead, he says, societies need to overturn the status quo, and push boldly forward without perfect data, but knowing we will build much better data along the way. For too many (not all) people with cancer, there is no time to wait. He explains:

" A number of better ways forward deserve our attention—all requiring companies, regulators, clinical researchers and physicians to collaborate in overturning the status quo:

• Data on the proven quality of treatments, insights from genomics, and the targets of current clinical research need to be integrated in real time—to help patients who cannot wait. The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s nascent CancerLinQ system could generate such a data cloud. It is intended to evolve in stages from measuring the quality of care to providing decision support for doctors and real-world insights for researchers. But it will need major assists from policy makers, regulators, physicians and industry.

• All cancer patients need to be made aware of clinical trials and allowed to enroll quickly if there is a trial that may be appropriate for their disease, or might end up being their best treatment option. Today fewer than 5% of people afflicted with cancer enroll in clinical trials.

• Clinical research and regulation must be fundamentally reformed to drive the development of treatments that target specific patient groups, something now possible because of genomics. This means encouraging more innovative clinical trial designs and even rethinking the need for massive, randomized controlled trials in every instance—since finding hundreds of patients with a particular genetic commonality for a clinical trial can be nearly impossible."

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