A number of challenges are associated with interpreting and utilizing genetic information, as discussed by Peter Salgo, MD, and Irwin W. Tischler, DO.
Dr Tischler explains that although a drug that targets a specific mutation may show benefit in a particular type of cancer, it is unclear whether the drug would be effective in other types of cancer. For example, drugs that target KRAS have shown efficacy in the treatment of patients with wild-type KRAS colorectal cancer. However, the KRAS mutation is present in other cancers, and it is unclear whether the KRAS mutation is the same across cancer types. For this reason, there is a need for research, despite financial concerns.
Cutbacks in Medicare reimbursement have affected research progress and have held back the pace of innovation in medical oncology, remarks Dr Tischler. However, he is hopeful that the restoration of the Cancer Care Act, currently in review by the US Congress, will address the reimbursement barrier.
Another challenge is the expense of newer drugs and technologies and the cost burden on the patient. Dr Tischler explains that high costs often dis-incentivize patients from receiving treatment. To reduce this financial burden and help patients receive the treatment they need, Dr Tischler explains, key stakeholders are now discussing an “all-encompassing” payment plan that would cover a patient’s entire course of treatment.
Watch our related Peer Exchange, Oncology Stakeholder Summit 2014: Evidence-Based Decisions to Improve Quality and Regulate Costs