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Edward C. Li

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Edward C. Li and Jessica DeMartino

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) develops and communicates the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) to oncologists and other clinicians. The NCCN Guidelines are widely recognized and applied as the standard for clinical policy in the United States. These guidelines and related documents, such as the NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium (NCCN Compendium), are used extensively by public and private payors as the basis for the setting of coverage policies. Given the demand for comparative effectiveness (CE) analyses, as described and discussed in this report, the NCCN has begun work on a paradigm to integrate evidence-based CE analysis into the NCCN Guidelines deliberative process. This report presents NCCN's initial thinking on the use of NCCN expert panel members in developing a process that can be used to compare health care technologies (e.g., radiation modalities, chemotherapy regimens) in a formal, systematic way. Draft considerations are provided to stimulate discussion and feedback, particularly in the oncology community, as NCCN moves through processes such as methodologic review, validation of rating scales, and review of implications for public policy, toward finalization of an NCCN CE analytic paradigm.

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Jennifer M. Hinkel, Edward C. Li and Stephen L. Sherman

Management of anemia in patients with cancer presents challenges from clinical, operational, and economic perspectives. Clinically, anemia in these patients may result from treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgical interventions) or from the malignancy itself. Anemia not only contributes to cancer-related fatigue and other quality of life issues, but also affects prognosis. From the operational perspective, a patient with cancer who is also anemic may consume more laboratory, pharmacy, and clinical resources than other patients with cancer.

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Gabrielle B. Rocque, Richard A. Taylor, Aras Acemgil, Xuelin Li, Maria Pisu, Kelly Kenzik, Bradford E. Jackson, Karina I. Halilova, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Karen Meneses, Yufeng Li, Michelle Y. Martin, Carol Chambless, Nedra Lisovicz, Mona Fouad, Edward E. Partridge, Elizabeth A. Kvale and the Patient Care Connect Group

Background: There is growing interest in psychosocial care and evaluating distress in patients with cancer. As of 2015, the Commission on Cancer requires cancer centers to screen patients for distress, but the optimal approach to implementation remains unclear. Methods: We assessed the feasibility and impact of using distress assessments to frame lay navigator interactions with geriatric patients with cancer who were enrolled in navigation between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2014. Results: Of the 5,121 patients enrolled in our lay patient navigation program, 4,520 (88%) completed at least one assessment using a standardized distress tool (DT). Navigators used the tool to structure both formal and informal distress assessments. Of all patients, 24% reported distress scores of 4 or greater and 5.5% reported distress scores of 8 or greater. The most common sources of distress at initial assessment were pain, balance/mobility difficulties, and fatigue. Minority patients reported similar sources of distress as the overall program population, with increased relative distress related to logistical issues, such as transportation and financial/insurance questions. Patients were more likely to ask for help with questions about insurance/financial needs (79%), transportation (76%), and knowledge deficits about diet/nutrition (76%) and diagnosis (66%) when these items contributed to distress. Conclusions: Lay navigators were able to routinely screen for patient distress at a high degree of penetration using a structured distress assessment.

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Ang Li, Qian Wu, Suhong Luo, Greg S. Warnick, Neil A. Zakai, Edward N. Libby, Brian F. Gage, David A. Garcia, Gary H. Lyman and Kristen M. Sanfilippo

Abstract

Background: Although venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a significant complication for patients with multiple myeloma (MM) receiving immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), no validated clinical model predicts VTE in this population. This study aimed to derive and validate a new risk assessment model (RAM) for IMiD-associated VTE. Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed MM receiving IMiDs were selected from the SEER-Medicare database (n=2,397) to derive a RAM and then data from the Veterans Health Administration database (n=1,251) were used to externally validate the model. A multivariable cause-specific Cox regression model was used for model development. Results: The final RAM, named the “SAVED” score, included 5 clinical variables: prior surgery, Asian race, VTE history, age ≥80 years, and dexamethasone dose. The model stratified approximately 30% of patients in both the derivation and the validation cohorts as high-risk. Hazard ratios (HRs) were 1.85 (P<.01) and 1.98 (P<.01) for high- versus low-risk groups in the derivation and validation cohorts, respectively. In contrast, the method of stratification recommended in the current NCCN Guidelines for Cancer-Associated Venous Thromboembolic Disease had HRs of 1.21 (P=.17) and 1.41 (P=.07) for the corresponding risk groups in the 2 datasets. Conclusions: The SAVED score outperformed the current NCCN Guidelines in risk-stratification of patients with MM receiving IMiD therapy. This clinical model can help inform providers and patients of VTE risk before IMiD initiation and provides a simplified clinical backbone for further prognostic biomarker development in this population.

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Andrew D. Zelenetz, Islah Ahmed, Edward Louis Braud, James D. Cross, Nancy Davenport-Ennis, Barry D. Dickinson, Steven E. Goldberg, Scott Gottlieb, Philip E. Johnson, Gary H. Lyman, Richard Markus, Ursula A. Matulonis, Denise Reinke, Edward C. Li, Jessica DeMartino, Jonathan K. Larsen and James M. Hoffman

Biologics are essential to oncology care. As patents for older biologics begin to expire, the United States is developing an abbreviated regulatory process for the approval of similar biologics (biosimilars), which raises important considerations for the safe and appropriate incorporation of biosimilars into clinical practice for patients with cancer. The potential for biosimilars to reduce the cost of biologics, which are often high-cost components of oncology care, was the impetus behind the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In March 2011, NCCN assembled a work group consisting of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other organizations, to provide guidance regarding the challenges health care providers and other key stakeholders face in incorporating biosimilars in health care practice. The work group identified challenges surrounding biosimilars, including health care provider knowledge, substitution practices, pharmacovigilance, naming and product tracking, coverage and reimbursement, use in off-label settings, and data requirements for approval.

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Rowena N. Schwartz, Kirby J. Eng, Deborah A. Frieze, Tracy K. Gosselin, Niesha Griffith, Amy Hatfield Seung, Jennifer M. Hinkel, Philip E. Johnson, Shirley A. Johnson, Edward C. Li, Audrea Hotsko Szabatura and Michael K. Wong

The use of specialty pharmacies is expanding in oncology pharmacy practice. Specialty pharmacies provide a channel for distributing drugs that, from the payor perspective, creates economies of scale and streamlines the delivery of expensive drugs. Proposed goals of specialty pharmacy include optimization of pharmaceutical care outcomes through ensuring appropriate medication use and maximizing adherence, and optimization of economic outcomes through avoiding unwarranted drug expenditure. In oncology practice, specialty pharmacies have become a distribution channel for various agents. The use of a specialty pharmacy, and the addition of the pharmacist from the specialty pharmacy to the health care team, may not only provide benefits for care but also present challenges in oncology practice. The NCCN Specialty Pharmacy Task Force met to identify and examine the impact of specialty pharmacy practice on the care of people with cancer, and to provide recommendations regarding issues discussed. This report provides recommendations within the following categories: education and training of specialty pharmacy practitioners who care for individuals with cancer, coordination of care, and patient safety. Areas for further evaluation are also identified.

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Philip E. Johnson, George Dahlman, Kirby Eng, Rekha Garg, Scott Gottlieb, James M. Hoffman, Peyton Howell, Mohammad Jahanzeb, Shirley Johnson, Emily Mackler, Mark Rubino, Brenda Sarokhan, F. Marc Stewart, Tim Tyler, Julie M. Vose, Sharon Weinstein, Edward C. Li and Jessica DeMartino

REMS are a particularly important issue for oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). A disproportionate number of drugs with complex REMS are used in patients with cancer or hematologic disorders. REMS policies and processes within oncology may act as a model for other clinical areas. A breadth of experience and access to a wide knowledge base exists within oncology that will ensure appropriate development and consideration of the practical implications of REMS. NCCN is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role in this process given its status as the arbiter of high-quality cancer care based on its world-leading institutions and clinicians. Notwithstanding the potential benefits, the successful design, implementation, and analysis of the FDA's recent requirement for REMS for some high-risk drugs and biologics will present significant challenges for stakeholders, including patients, providers, cancer centers, manufacturers, payors, health information technology vendors, and regulatory agencies. To provide guidance to these stakeholders regarding REMS challenges, the NCCN assembled a work group comprised of thought leaders from NCCN Member Institutions and other outside experts. The Work Group identified challenges across the REMS spectrum, including the areas of standardization, development and assessment of REMS programs, medication guides, provider knowledge and impact on prescribing, provider burden and compensation, and incorporation of REMS into clinical practice.