Commercial, rather than patient interests, often drive cancer care and research and patients deserve better, argue a group of global oncologists and patient advocates in a Comment published in The Lancet Oncology journal. The authors also establish core guidelines for the development of a new patient-centred movement in cancer care – Common Sense Oncology.
The Comment says there has been a shift over the past few decades from predominantly publicly funded clinical trials designed to answer questions important to patients, to industry-funded trials which aim to achieve regulatory approval or commercial advantage.
The authors claim industry’s control of the research agenda has created a system that is predominantly focused on new cancer medicines at the expense of investigating new approaches to surgery, radiotherapy, palliative care, and prevention.
The Comment also highlights how a substantial proportion of industry revenue is used for marketing campaigns aimed at influencing patients, policy-makers, and oncologists irrespective of clinical need.
Common Sense Oncology, the new movement launched with the publication of the Comment, aims to ensure that cancer care and innovation is focused on outcomes that matter to patients rather than the commercial bottom-line. The authors hope to educate and empower the next generation of oncologists to push the field to do better for patients via three key areas:
- Ensuring clinical trials use and report outcomes that matter to patients
- Fostering critical thinking among oncologists to make sound clinical decisions aligned with outcomes that matter to patients
- Improving patient, public, and policy-maker understanding of cancer treatment options
Professor Christopher Booth, Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, said: “While many cancer treatments make a real difference in the lives of our patients, there are growing concerns that some new treatments do not help patients live longer or feel better. Common Sense Oncology is a global initiative that prioritises people over profits and promotes shared decision-making with patients. Our vision is that patients have access to cancer treatments that provide meaningful improvements in outcomes that matter – irrespective of where they live.”