MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Closing the Gap Now (www.closingthegapnow.org), supporting “Patient-led care - Data-driven cures,” concluded its inaugural meeting to accelerate access to advanced treatments for patients with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
“Our goal is to reinvigorate the process that sustains medical innovation,” said John Morrissey, who serves as Chair of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. “We can reduce the time between hope and cures for patients with cancer and other deadly diseases by using highly advanced tools to match patients to promising treatments before they run out of time.”
The conference brought together representatives from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center, the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) through its patient-focused My Life Is Worth It campaign.
“Modern medicines have added more than 50-million years to the lives of cancer patients since 1990. We need to make better use of this rich potential,” said CMPI vice president Robert Goldberg, Ph.D. “Giving patients, along with their doctors, the choice of medicines as soon as they’re shown to be safe, and then tracking their response, is the most scientific, most compassionate way to find out which therapies work best in the real world. We can learn more about what saves lives with less money and in less time than by relying on the current, outdated system of randomized clinical trials.”
Today, patients are given the choice of a standard of care that came out of a laboratory ten years ago or longer. Or they can try to get into a clinical trial, but even if they do, they could be given an inactive placebo, and still wait ten years for the results to be accepted and approved. Closing The Gap Now proposes a system that would give patients promising new treatments as soon as they have passed their safety testing. Then that information from each patient can be compiled, shared and analyzed as soon as possible. With this new approach, we can:
- Treat the patients instead of turning them into test subjects, giving them access to treatments in ten days instead of ten years
- Gather data about large numbers of drugs in a real-world setting, giving scientists the data they need in weeks instead of a decade
- Compile and analyze that data to develop highly predictive matching of patients to one or more treatments in months, not years.
“We are real people, not averages,” said patient Bob Tufts, former Major League Baseball player and co-founder of My Life Is Worth It. “In 2009 my doctor used a drug treatment regimen in a way that is still not approved. But I am alive and well, working and supporting my family. Now let’s share my data with other patients so we can all learn from my actual experience and benefit from my success taking this regimen to fight cancer.”
Mr. Morrissey added, “Some oversight is essential to assure new products are safe and effective, but the current innovation pathway ignores and even penalizes more efficient, data-driven ways to make better, lower cost products available to millions of patients who need them as a matter of life and death.”
Also joining the meeting were representatives of industry and advocacy including Nicholas Schork of the J. Craig Venter Institute, David Potter of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center and Colin Hill, CEO and Founder of GNS Healthcare, a big data solutions company. The next steps are for the group to evaluate each proposal thoroughly and responsibly, and to build public and political support to implement their proposals.
“We need hundreds of new ideas,” said Dr. Goldberg. “Not a system that discourages and delays innovation.”
For more information, please visit www.closingthegapnow.org.