Earlier this year I looked at the poor state of play with medical trials, and in particular patient awareness of them/access to them. A study by Lilly COI found that just 16% of cancer patients were aware of any relevant trials operating at the time they were considering treatment. This was despite a whopping 95% of patients expressing a desire to consider such an option should they be made aware of it.
It’s a pretty low bar, but improving on these dire statistics will give an inevitable boost to the innovation process, whilst also offering patients access to potentially beneficial treatments. We’ve seen a number of projects resolve to improve this situation over the past few years, with the Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER) will allow individuals to share their health information using a comprehensive dashboard. PEER engages with participants by asking them to complete a gamified survey that gives them real time information against other users on the site. Cinderella Therapeutics have also attempted to revive promising treatments that had been mothballed by companies for whom they had never made a profit.
A new Dutch project is attempting to go even further. The venture, called myTomorrows, is hoping to give patients a fast track to drugs that have not yet been fully approved. The service is a relatively straightforward one, whereby patients can connect with both doctors and drug companies who have undertaken positive initial trials of new treatments.
Patients register on the site, and are alerted when treatments that match their particular condition are made available via the site. When a match is found, patients can liaise with their doctor, who will then work with the company devising the treatment to understand whether it can be of benefit to the patient or not. If they believe it could be, the patient can then either join the clinical trial, or alternatively be prescribed the drug through either a compassionate use condition or expanded access program.
The service currently charges a transaction fee whenever a patient is matched to a potential treatment, with initial treatments focusing on numerous cancers and depressive disorders. It should hopefully go without saying that there are always risks involved in using a treatment that has not been officially authorised, but hopefully with both doctors and pharmaceutical companies on board, the risks involved will be negligible. The flip side of course is that it gives patients access to potentially better treatments, whilst giving the development companies access to a greater range of participants in their trials.