With mounting evidence that cancer research and biomedical discovery are slowing even as a 45% increase in cancer cases is projected by 2030, the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) – a national non-profit organization providing the patient’s voice in improving access to quality cancer care – just released a blueprint to accelerate the delivery of promising new treatments to patients and launched a new grassroots movement called Project Innovation to drive action.
Issued as a call to action, the new white paper – Securing the Future of Innovation in Cancer Treatment – is the result of consultation with biomedical researchers, medical innovators, patient advocates, clinicians and policymakers and offers a roadmap for addressing the pervasive obstacles slowing the pace of cancer discovery. Among the barriers cited are a nearly 20% drop in government-funded basic research since 2010 and a steady decline in venture capital investment in biotechnology since 2007.
Also impeding progress are logistical, bureaucratic, institutional and regulatory obstacles that add years to scientific discovery and drug development, such as added steps and inefficiencies in the clinical trials process, duplicative and conflicting standards, auditing mandates, increasing regulatory requirements and delays in review decisions. As a result, it takes nine or more years from discovery to approval for a new cancer therapy compared to an average time of two years for HIV drugs. Further, because drug development is an uncertain process, a 2010 Tufts University study puts the cost of developing one innovative cancer drug at upwards of $1 billion.
“This report represents a wakeup call for all Americans and is intended to spark a national movement to make cancer innovation a national priority,” said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, NPAF’s founder and chairman. “Cancer kills 1,600 Americans every day and this number will only increase in the years ahead unless we commit as a nation to hasten the pace of medical discovery. It is time to put cancer innovation on the national agenda and press for solutions that will save lives instead of continuing a one-sided conversation on the cost of treatment.”
Project Innovation to spearhead a national dialogue on cancer innovation
To turn these findings into practice, NPAF will spearhead Project Innovation, a social activation effort to involve patients, their family members and local citizens in speaking out about the importance of accelerating cancer innovation. Utilizing the online hub – www.projectinnovation.org – digital advertising and multiple information channels, Project Innovation will tap the energy and ideas of cancer patients, advocates, healthcare professionals, biomedical researchers, medical innovators, payers, policymakers and 21st century thinkers on ways to move cancer discovery forward. Plans call for hosting regional town halls, workshops and advocacy forums across the country; scheduling meetings with federal and state legislators and regulators; and arming interested citizens and patient advocate volunteers nationwide to advocate for cancer innovation in their communities.
Project Innovation is a collaboration of leaders from national cancer advocacy organizations, providers, biomedical research institutions, the business community and industry to put cancer innovation on the policy agenda.
Three pillars of innovation
Through Project Innovation, NPAF’s agenda-setting report will be distributed widely to patient advocates, healthcare professionals, biomedical researchers, medical innovators, payers, and policymakers with the goal of elevating cancer innovation as a national priority and advancing policy solutions addressing three pillars of innovation. Specifically, NPAF’s action agenda calls for action in the following areas:
- Expand the science of innovation by reducing logistical obstacles
- Improve the value of innovation by bolstering funding opportunities
- Enhance the delivery of innovation through improved communication and coordination between providers and patients