Sally Crossing, Chair, Cancer Voices NSW writes:
“The Sydney Morning Herald’s recent front page article “Genetic testing decides who gets breakthrough drug” brings into public discussion an urgent need for an efficient, timely approvals process for these kinds of tests.
New cancer drugs, to which our own genetic profiles respond, can’t be given without these tests. And those tests need approval before moving onto the MBS. A Catch 22?
People with cancer see drugs which are personalised to work with the profile of their own cancer as the light on the hill.
None of us wants to take toxic chemotherapy without some kind of certainty that it will actually work for US. Recent advances are making personalised cancer treatment more of a reality – the drug Erbitux for bowel cancer being one of the latest.
Cancer Voices NSW has called on the Commonwealth Government to upgrade and update its processes for approving genetic profile tests. Over recent years, we have supported the Royal College of Pathologists’ call for a National Framework for Genetic Testing, and participated in the Health Technology Assessment Review. We are not pretending this is an easy issue to resolve, but we would like the powers that be to reassure us that they are onto it, and that a timely timeframe has been established.
Cancer Voices NSW recently convinced the Cancer Council NSW to fund a collaboration of seven major research institutions working in the area of pharmacogenomics, to speed up discovery through partnership. The International Cancer Genome Consortium is investing to pretty much same thing on a grand scale.
Clinical translation of this work will depend on access to tests. This is a hugely important field for researchers, clinicians, patients and the community – with big savings for the pubic purse by gradually eliminating the ‘one size fits all’ nature of current cancer treatment.”