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Clinical Trial Access for Canadian CLL Patients

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Published on June 10, 2015

At the 2015 CLL Live conference in Niagara Falls, Andrew Schorr caught up with Dr. Ronan Foley, as he explores Canadian patient access to clinical trials for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dr. Foley discusses the trial evaluation process plus the challenges and opportunities that the Canadian health system presents.

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Transcript | Clinical Trial Access for Canadian CLL Patients

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

Andrew Schorr at CLL Live 2015, Niagara Falls, with Dr. Ronan Foley, who is a hematologist/oncologist in Hamilton, Ontario, right? 

Dr. Foley:

Just up the road. 

Andrew Schorr:

Just up the road.  And, of course, when we're here in Canada, the question Canadian patients have is can they get access to a lot of the treatments that they hear about on the Internet?  So that's always a battle, and it's province by province.  What do you tell people, doctor? 

Dr. Foley:

Well, in Canada, you know, we have one healthcare system.  The money gets spent somewhat differently in provinces, but every Canadian has an equal access to treatment.  Now, that is, we believe, mainly a good thing, but it does raise challenges in the funding of some of these newer drugs which are very expensive.  They work very well.  The amount of research and development that's gone in sort of has to be recuperated by the pharmaceutical, so it does create challenges on those cutting edge. 

What we do in Canada is we have a very rigorous assessment of all the clinical trials to make absolutely sure that a drug in CLL is either going to make someone's life better or extend how long they can live.  And so we do a very rigorous process.  It is very well done, and we're confident that the money really is being in the best—being spent in the best interest of the patients. 

Andrew Schorr:

Now, part of the information here has been that still there's a role for standard treatments like FCR for some patients who have sort of better prognostic factors, so that's an available therapy.  

Dr. Foley:

That is an available therapy, and it's given the same way as around the world.  Again, we do try to create guidelines so that we try to do things, as Canadians we try to do it all the same as best we can.  So we do adhere to the guidelines, we believe in the process, and I believe it works very well for Canadians.  

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  So now we're in an age where things are changing.  

Dr. Foley:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

Precision oncology.  Are you hopeful?  When somebody walks in or you tell them that they're diagnosed with CLL that with the range of therapies that are available and the trials that are going on that you may be able to give them a longer, better life? 

Dr. Foley:

That absolutely is my goal.  It's a great question, Andrew.  I mean, that is the challenge we face.  There has literally been a tsunami of new drugs coming in.  The pharmaceutical industry is very interested in CLL.  The results are off the charts. 

But at the same time, we want to make the right decisions for each individual patient.  I see a day where all this research comes together, where I can pick the right combination of drugs for that specific patient and get the best result I can, maybe even a cure.  So we're not entirely there yet, as I asked Dr. Keating in his brilliant session today, but with every trial we do this information is being gathered.  So it's coming along. 

We also like to make sure there's a healthy amount of clinical trials in Canada so people have options, can—you know, if they're interested or if they're in need can get to these newer drugs quickly through a clinical trial.  But I feel very confident about the situation in Canada.  It does have its challenges, but overall we Canadians do like our one healthcare system. 

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  All right.  So Canada has its system, and it has its challenges, but it has its opportunities and has very dedicated physicians like Dr. Ronan Foley.  Dr. Foley, thank you for being with us 

Dr. Foley:

Thank you, Andrew. 

Andrew Schorr:

…on Patient Power. 

Dr. Foley:

It's a real pleasure.  

Andrew Schorr:

Andrew Schorr on location at Niagara Falls.  Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all. 

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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