Molecular testing and biosimilars offer the potential for increased access to targeted treatment options and reduction in healthcare costs, but come with significant challenges in ensuring patient access to innovation in cancer care while maintaining safe, effective, ethical, and affordable treatment options. As providers, payers, patients, and the larger healthcare systems become inundated with a wide variety of molecular diagnostics and an increased number of biosimilars coming to market, it will be important to understand regulatory guidance and policy implications relating to the appropriateness of molecular testing and the clinical use of biosimilars in cancer care. In September 2016, NCCN hosted the Molecular Testing and Biosimilars Policy Summit to address the challenges, issues, and opportunities in both the molecular testing and biosimilar landscapes. Keynote presentations and panelists further discussed the status and future of molecular testing and biosimilars within the oncology space, as well as patient access and education needs moving forward.
Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Elizabeth A. Nardi, Lisa Korin Lentz, Jeffrey A. Crawford, C. Lyn Fitzgerald and Robert W. Carlson
Robert W. Carlson, Jonathan K. Larsen, Joan McClure, C. Lyn Fitzgerald, Alan P. Venook, Al B. Benson III and Benjamin O. Anderson
The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) are evidence- and consensus-based clinical practice guidelines addressing malignancies that affect more than 97% of all patients with cancer in the United States. The NCCN Guidelines are used extensively in the United States and globally. Use of the guidelines outside the United States has driven the need to adapt the guidelines based on local, regional, or national resources. The NCCN Guidelines Panels created, vetted, and continually update the NCCN Guidelines based on published scientific data on cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment efficacy. The guidelines are developed within the context of commonly available resources, methods of payment, societal and cultural expectations, and governmental regulations as they exist in the United States. Although many of the cancer management recommendations contained in the NCCN Guidelines apply broadly from a global perspective, not all do. Disparities in availability and access to health care exist among countries, within countries, and among different social groups in the same country, especially regarding resources for cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. In addition, different drug approval and payment processes result in regional variation in availability of and access to cancer treatment, especially highly expensive agents and radiation therapy. Differences in cancer risk, predictive biomarker expression, and pharmacogenetics exist across ethnic and racial groups, and therefore across geographic locations. Cultural and societal expectations and requirements may also require modification of NCCN Guidelines for use outside the United States. This article describes the adaptation process, using the recent Latin American adaptation of the 2013 NCCN Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer as an example.
Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Elizabeth A. Nardi, James McCanney, F. Marc Stewart, Terry Langbaum, Bruce J. Gould, C. Lyn Fitzgerald and Robert W. Carlson
The inability to obtain the right high-quality cancer care in a timely and safe manner can have devastating results for patients. As cancer care becomes inundated with cutting edge and novel treatments, such as personalized medicine, oral chemotherapy, biosimilars, and immunotherapy, new safety challenges are emerging at increasing speed and complexity. Moreover, shifting federal healthcare policies could have significant implications for the safety and access to high-quality and effective cancer care for millions of patients with cancer. Challenges and opportunities in ensuring patient access to safe, affordable, and high-quality cancer care remain significant within the policy landscape. To address these concerns, NCCN hosted the Ensuring Safety and Access in Cancer Care Policy Summit in June 2017 to discuss pertinent patient safety issues and access implications under the Trump administration, as well as policy and advocacy strategies to address these gaps and build on opportunities moving forward.
Alyssa A. Schatz, Katy Winckworth Prejsnar, James McCanney, Meghan Gutierrez, Stefanie Joho, Joseph Alvarnas and Robert W. Carlson
In recent years, oncology has seen a rapid increase in the introduction of high-cost innovative therapies while scrutiny around drug pricing has simultaneously amplified. Significant policy shifts impacting health coverage and benefit design are also being implemented, including narrow network health plans, uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, and threats to preexisting condition protections. Shifting health coverage policy combined with high drug prices and outdated reimbursement systems may create barriers to patient access to innovation and high-quality cancer care. To understand how trends in health policy are impacting the oncology ecosystem, NCCN convened the NCCN Policy Summit: Policy Strategies for the “New Normal” in Healthcare to Ensure Access to High-Quality Cancer Care on June 25, 2018. The summit included discussion of how innovation is changing cancer treatment, care delivery, and ways health systems are responding; the impact of narrow networks on access to academic cancer centers; and how the evolving health policy landscape is affecting access to high-quality cancer care for patients.
Terrell Johnson, Lindsey A.M. Bandini, Darryl Mitteldorf, Elizabeth Franklin, Justin E. Bekelman and Robert W. Carlson
As the oncology ecosystem shifts from service-based care to outcomes and value-based care, stakeholders cite concerns regarding the lack of patient experience data that are important to the patient community. To address the patient perspective and highlight the challenges and opportunities within policy and clinical decision-making to improve patient-centered care, NCCN hosted the NCCN Patient Advocacy Summit: Delivering Value for Patients Across the Oncology Ecosystem on December 11, 2019, in Washington, DC. The summit featured multidisciplinary panel discussions, keynote speakers, and patient advocate presentations exploring the implications for patient-centered care within a shifting health policy landscape. This article encapsulates and expounds upon the discussions and presentations from the summit.
Leigh Gallo, Ronald S. Walters, Jeff Allen, Jenny Ahlstrom, Clay Alspach, Yelak Biru, Alyssa Schatz, Kara Martin and Robert W. Carlson
The 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act), signed into law in 2016, was designed to advance new therapies by modernizing clinical trials, funding research initiatives, and accelerating the development and use of health information technology. To analyze the current issues in cancer care related to the implementation and impact of the Cures Act, NCCN convened a multistakeholder working group. Participants discussed the legislation’s impact on the oncology community since enactment and identified the remaining gaps and challenges as experienced by stakeholders. In June 2020, the policy recommendations of the working group were presented at the virtual NCCN Policy Summit: Accelerating Advances in Cancer Care Research: A Lookback at the 21st Century Cures Act in 2020. The summit consisted of informative discussions and a multistakeholder panel to explore the recommendations and the future of the Cures Act. This article explores identified policy recommendations from the NCCN Working Group and the NCCN Policy Summit, and analyzes opportunities to advance innovative cancer care and patient access to data.
Alan P. Venook, Maria E. Arcila, Al B. Benson III, Donald A. Berry, David Ross Camidge, Robert W. Carlson, Toni K. Choueiri, Valerie Guild, Gregory P. Kalemkerian, Razelle Kurzrock, Christine M. Lovly, Amy E. McKee, Robert J. Morgan, Anthony J. Olszanski, Mary W. Redman, Vered Stearns, Joan McClure and Marian L. Birkeland
Defining treatment-susceptible or -resistant populations of patients with cancer through the use of genetically defined biomarkers has revolutionized cancer care in recent years for some disease/patient groups. Research continues to show that histologically defined diseases are diverse in their expression of unique mutations or other genetic alterations, however, which presents opportunities for the development of personalized cancer treatments, but increased difficulty in testing these therapies, because potential patient populations are divided into ever smaller numbers. To address some of the growing challenges in biomarker development and clinical trial design, NCCN assembled a group of experts across specialties and solid tumor disease types to begin to define the problems and to consider alternate ways of designing clinical trials in the era of multiple biomarkers and targeted therapies. Results from that discussion are presented, focusing on issues of clinical trial design from the perspective of statisticians, clinical researchers, regulators, pathologists, and information developers.
Alyssa A. Schatz, Thomas K. Oliver, Robert A. Swarm, Judith A. Paice, Deepika S. Darbari, Deborah Dowell, Salimah H. Meghani, Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Eduardo Bruera, Robert M. Plovnick, Lisa Richardson, Neha Vapiwala, Dana Wollins, Clifford A. Hudis and Robert W. Carlson
Opioids are a critical component of pain relief strategies for the management of patients with cancer and sickle cell disease. The escalation of opioid addiction and overdose in the United States has led to increased scrutiny of opioid prescribing practices. Multiple reports have revealed that regulatory and coverage policies, intended to curb inappropriate opioid use, have created significant barriers for many patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and American Society of Clinical Oncology each publish clinical practice guidelines for the management of chronic pain. A recent JAMA Oncology article highlighted perceived variability in recommendations among these guidelines. In response, leadership from guideline organizations, government representatives, and authors of the original article met to discuss challenges and solutions. The meeting featured remarks by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, presentations on each clinical practice guideline, an overview of the pain management needs of patients with sickle cell disease, an overview of perceived differences among guidelines, and a discussion of differences and commonalities among the guidelines. The meeting revealed that although each guideline varies in the intended patient population, target audience, and methodology, there is no disagreement among recommendations when applied to the appropriate patient and clinical situation. It was determined that clarification and education are needed regarding the intent, patient population, and scope of each clinical practice guideline, rather than harmonization of guideline recommendations. Clinical practice guidelines can serve as a resource for policymakers and payers to inform policy and coverage determinations.
D. Craig Allred, Robert W. Carlson, Donald A. Berry, Harold J. Burstein, Stephen B. Edge, Lori J. Goldstein, Allen Gown, M. Elizabeth Hammond, James Dirk Iglehart, Susan Moench, Lori J. Pierce, Peter Ravdin, Stuart J. Schnitt and Antonio C. Wolff
The NCCN Task Force on Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Testing in Breast Cancer by Immunohistochemistry was convened to critically evaluate the extent to which the presence of the estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) biomarkers in breast cancer serve as prognostic and predictive factors in the adjuvant and metastatic settings, and the ability of immunohistochemical (IHC) detection of ER and PgR to provide an accurate assessment of the expression of these biomarkers in breast cancer tumor tissue. The task force is a multidisciplinary panel of 13 experts in breast cancer who are affiliated with NCCN member institutions and represent the disciplines of pathology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and biostatistics. The main overall conclusions of the task force are ER is a strong predictor of response to endocrine therapy; ER status of all samples of invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) should be evaluated by IHC; IHC measurements of PgR, although not as important clinically as ER, can provide useful information and should also be performed on all samples of invasive breast cancer or DCIS; IHC is the main testing strategy for evaluating ER and PgR in breast cancer and priority should be given to improve the quality of IHC testing methodologies; all laboratories performing IHC assays of ER and PgR should undertake formal validation studies to show both technical and clinical validation of the assay in use; and all laboratories performing IHC assays of hormone receptors in breast cancer should follow additional quality control and assurance measures as outlined in the upcoming guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and College of American Pathologists.
Tiffany H. Svahn, Joyce C. Niland, Robert W. Carlson, Melissa E. Hughes, Rebecca A. Ottesen, Richard L. Theriault, Stephen B. Edge, Anne F. Schott, Michael A. Bookman and Jane C. Weeks
After the first report of the ATAC (Arimidex, Tamoxifen, Alone or in Combination) trial, adjuvant aromatase inhibitor use increased rapidly among National Comprehensive Cancer Network member institutions. Increased aromatase inhibitor use was associated with older age, vascular disease, overexpression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), or more advanced stage, and substantial variation was seen among institutions. This article examines adjuvant endocrine therapy in postmenopausal women after the first report of the trial, identifies temporal relationships in aromatase inhibitor use, and examines characteristics associated with choice of endocrine therapy among 4044 postmenopausal patients with hormone receptor–positive nonmetastatic breast cancer presenting from July 1997 to December 2004. Multivariable logistic regression analysis examined temporal associations and characteristics associated with aromatase inhibitor use. Time-trend analysis showed increased aromatase inhibitor and decreased tamoxifen use after release of ATAC results (P < .0001). In multivariable regression analysis, institution (P <. 0001), vascular disease (P <. 0001), age (P = .0002), stage (P = .0002), and HER2 status (P = .0009) independently predicted aromatase inhibitor use. Institutional rates of use ranged from 15% to 66%. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitor use increased after the first report of ATAC, with this increase associated with older age, vascular disease, overexpression of HER2, or more advanced stage. Substantial variation was seen among institutions.