Dr Amy Abernethy on Improving Patient Access to Oncology Clinical Trials

As oncology moves toward more deep diagnostic testing and as standard of care continues to quickly evolve, technology advancements are necessary to continue to improve patient access to clinical trials, explained Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD, the chief medical officer, chief scientific officer, and senior vice president of oncology at Flatiron Health.

Transcript (slightly modified)
How does oncology benefit from improving patient access to clinical trials?
How does oncology benefit more from the technology innovations of now and in the future than perhaps other therapeutic areas? I think it’s several things. First, what we are seeing in oncology is more and more deep diagnostic testing, such as next-generation sequencing testing. The more that we have details of the patient and specific requirements for each protocol, such as a specific biomarker and finding that out in the patient’s biomarker testing and those 2 things can be linked up—that’s going to be specific to disease areas like oncology and rare disease. So, I think that’s one place where trials have been particularly tough. It’s sort of this rare patient finding, the needle-in-the-haystack problem, that is pretty unique to oncology.

Another place that is particularly hard about oncology is that the standard of care is changing very, very fast, and so clinical trials that have control arms that reflect standard of care from yesteryear, that’s not going to work for us in oncology. I can’t afford to take care of my patient and my patient can’t afford for me to take care of him or her using old fashioned treatments. So, being able to design clinical trials in oncology that either use data and data informed standard of care so that it’s as contemporary as possible and perhaps doesn’t even need to expose this particular patient to that kind of standard of care, but rather just only the novel treatments are the kinds of things they need in oncology.
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