We partnered with Dr. Dorothy Lo, a medical oncologist based on Toronto, Ontario, who has provided a reflection of her thoughts on the results of the survey:
This study showed that many physicians feel that drugs are effective even if there is no demonstrated OS benefit and physicians seem to place weight on PFS and QOL benefit. It seems like the current standard for funding decisions weigh heavily on OS. These findings may show changing attitudes and the willingness to support access to drugs using other metrics than OS. It is noted that cost savings may also warrant justification for new drug funding.
Some unmet needs were identified and highlighted. The expressed expectation regarding compassionate access programs reflects the current lag times between Health Canada approval to public reimbursement. Many new drugs are currently supported by compassionate access programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. It is unclear if there is a consensus of what the optimal timeline should be as the range of responses regarding an acceptable lag time between Health Canada approval to pCODR/CADTH funding decision and then approval on the provincial formulary ranged from 1 month to 1 year. Another unmet need that was highlighted included suboptimal support from provincial cancer organizations for the use of compassionately funded medications as more than half (52%) of responding physicians felt there was lack of support for the use of compassionately funded medications at their center.
"New drugs need time to get public finding.
Early free drug from a (life sciences) company allows early adoption of therapy." (Dr. Alan So, British Columbia)
"QoL is extremely important for treatment selection" - Dr. Mihai Boianu, QC
"Sometimes we cannot significantly elongate life, but we can provide some quality time through treatment" - Oncologist, Saskatchewan