Final Thoughts on BTK Inhibitors

The panel of experts provide their closing thoughts on the burden of disease in leukemia and lymphoma and the Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitor landscape.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Thank you to my expert panel for being here. What a great discussion around BTK [Bruton tyrosine kinase] inhibitors, not only the current management but also the future. Thank you for this rich and informative discussion. Before we conclude, I’d like to get final thoughts from each of you. Maybe we can start with you, Dr Coombs. Please share some final thoughts with our viewing audience.

Callie Coombs, MD: As we’ve learned from our wonderful panel, CLL [chronic lymphocytic leukemia] has profoundly changed with the introduction of BTK inhibitors—100% for the better for patients. However, we still have challenges with respect to getting our patients these drugs in an affordable manner. I’m optimistic for the future because we have a great team behind these efforts.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Excellent. I’m excited about the future as well. Dr Beveridge, how about you? What are your final thoughts?

Roy Beveridge, MD: We’re fortunate to live in a world and time when we have an embarrassment of riches [to help treat] many things, and CLL is 1 of them. That’s not going to change this war against cancer. It started in 1975, and it’s going to continue to progress. The science and understanding that all these smart people have is very encouraging. But I agree with Callie: access is the problem. It’s not only in CLL and in BTKs; it’s in many things. This is a microcosm of the larger problem. We have wonderful treatments, so we have to make sure our population—and the world’s population—has access to them.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Creating access and collaboration between leading practitioners and payers will hopefully help us recognize the value and create better access to patients while addressing the financial toxicity and vulnerability that a lot of patients have. Dr Koffman, what are your final thoughts on today’s discussion?

Brian Koffman, MD: When patients are diagnosed, I tell them there’s never a good time to be diagnosed with CLL, but there’s never been a better time to be diagnosed with CLL. Except maybe tomorrow, because the therapies just keep getting better. I also tell them that when you look at the data, you’re always looking at data that’s old. If you’re looking at a trial that started 5 years ago, that’s 5-year-old data. The treatments are much better than they were 5 years ago. [I tell them] “Don’t be depressed when you look at that. You’ve got to look forward. We don’t have those data, but you’re part of the group that’s progressing.”

One thing that’s encouraging is that if you look at every decade that someone was diagnosed, people diagnosed in this decade are living longer than the people in the last decade, longer than in the decade before, and in the decade before. It’s not a solved problem—we still have work to do—but it’s getting better and better. We have to keep encouraging patients, not only to seek out their best care and be their own advocates but also to look at clinical trials. That’s the only way we raise the bar and get new and better therapies. Sometimes those new and better therapies aren’t better drugs. There are shorter courses of therapies, better combinations, ways to avoid toxicity, lower doses, and all kinds of things—a week on, a week off. There are all kinds of creative stuff going on out there. I’m very excited about the future, both as a patient advocate and a physician.

Ryan Haumschild, PharmD, MS, MBA: Thank you again. And to our viewing audience, we hope you found this AJMC® Peer Exchange to be useful and informative.

Transcript edited for clarity.

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