Some 95 percent of cancer drugs launched around the globe are available in the U.S. Given that the U.S. is a global leader in ensuring patients have access to the newest therapies, the country has a profound impact on patient treatment and outcomes around the world. During the panel, Global Perspectives on Patient Access, speakers emphasized the U.S.’s role on access and the need for transparency in drug pricing at the global level.
“The U.S. has led the way in drug approvals and drug development, and now we have a change in administration and new ideas,” said Pam Traxel, vice president for alliance development and philanthropy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “There’s a much more global role to think about in terms of access.”
There are a number of proposed solutions, from reference pricing to boards that would enable states to set “allowable rates” for certain high-cost drugs and other ways to reduce drug costs. While there’s no clear solution, it certainly remains clear that drug pricing—with an emphasis on improving patient access—should be at the forefront of conversations moving forward.
The panel also touched on what patient access actually means, and how it can take on different meanings for different people. In cancer, there is a lot of data about what access to drugs and treatments means for patients. In breast cancer, women with triple negative breast cancer are 53 percent more likely to die if they have to wait 90 days to get chemotherapy. “Without quick access in the cancer space, people die,” Traxel said. “Now, a lot of people are benefitting from having quick access in the U.S.”
The panelists agreed that there’s an enormous need to continue innovating, but it could be helpful to remain laser-focused on the people who will need these drugs and what they can truly afford. There was a shared hope among the speakers in the room: by recognizing and expanding on the U.S.’s role as a global leader, perhaps patient access will also grow and more lives will be saved around the world.