Clinical OMICS

MAY-JUN 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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8 Clinical OMICs May/June 2017 News ASCO Presses for More Access to Better Cancer Drug Treatment The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is tak- ing a hard stand on payers' restrictions to some cancer care. Payer-imposed utilization management policies often restrict patient access to high-quality, high-value cancer care because of "a lack of interchangeable clinical options," ASCO said in a statement. "Utilization management strategies, when implemented without appropriate patient safeguards, can impede patient access to high-value, clinically appropriate care," said ASCO President Daniel Hayes, M.D. "Payer policies must reflect the current requirements of contemporary cancer care and be evidence-based on what constitutes high-quality care." ASCO argues that, "not all clinical pathways in oncology have been developed and implemented in a high-quality, transparent, and efficient way." For that reason, ASCO is calling for patients to have full access to anticancer therapy most appropriate for their disease and cost should not be the primary driver of utilization management policies. Utilization management policies should be evidence-based and provide the best care available, and that care should take place in a timely manner and without administrative burdens, ASCO said. In addition, all utilization management should be without conflict of interests. "Any policy that has the effect of interfering with cancer patients getting the right drug at the right time is an obvious problem," said Robin Zon, M.D., chair of ASCO's Pathways Taskforce. Particularly, because drug therapy is "one of our primary weapons against cancer." Zon said some insurance companies allow employees to set the utilization management policies who don't have expertise in treating patients with a particular disease. To remedy this, insurers could include experts and panelists from outside of the insurance company to help advise and establish policies. "We agree with the ASCO that access to safe, quality, high-value and affordable cancer care should absolutely be a priority," said Cathryn Donaldson, director of communica- tions and public affairs at America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). "And that's the point of medical management tools." "Adhering to evidence-based treatments, preventing overuse or misuse of drugs through prior authorization and utilizing step-therapy approaches drive down costs, protect patients, and increase care effectiveness," Donaldson said. "The value of medical management has been well recog- nized in numerous federal and state government-sponsored programs like Medicare because, ultimately, patients benefit from better outcomes with lower out-of-pocket costs." According to Donaldson, payers recognize the extreme physical, mental, and financial burden that cancer takes on patients and their families. "Insurers are working proac- tively to help reduce the burden by addressing the high cost of care, implementing successful initiatives such as oncol- ogy medical homes, and incorporating evidence and clini- cal-based approaches to care," she said.—Diana Manos Through an exclusive license agree- ment, Cambridge Epigenetix said it has licensed numerous epigenetic lab tech- niques that are related to profiling and altering DNA methylation. The tech- niques include the specific and unbiased enrichment of 5mC and 5hmC via enzy- matic glucosylation and the use of ten- eleven translocation ( TET ) enzymes for targeted epigenetic engineering. "5hmC is fundamentally linked to the expression of genes and to the identity of cells and tissue. This makes it a highly important epigenetic marker with the potential to improve patient outcomes through the early diagnosis and treat- ment of diseases such as cancer," Cam- bridge Epigenetix CEO Jason Mellad, Ph.D., said in a statement. "This is a tre- mendous opportunity for Cambridge Epigenetix, enabling the company to utilize and offer our partners the most advanced epigenetic biomarker dis- covery technologies available in our key focus areas of oncology and liquid biopsy." n (continued from previous page) Robin Zon, M.D., chair of ASCO's Pathways Taskforce, left, and Cathryn Donaldson, of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), right

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