Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

How Can Clinical Trial Sponsors Help Patients With Cost?

Read Transcript Download/Print Transcript
View next

Published on December 4, 2019

Clinical trials expert Andy Lee, senior vice president and head of Global Clinical Trial Operations at Merck, explains the cost structure of trials and share how sponsors are working internationally to provide assistance and resources to help cancer patients with out-of-pocket expenses, like transportation and daycare. Watch as Andy describes ways sponsors are optimizing trials to ensure patients are able to participate.  

This is a Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) program produced by Patient Power. We thank AbbVie, Inc., Celgene Corporation, Daiichi Sankyo, and Novartis for their support through grants to PEN. These organizations have no editorial control. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

Featuring

I learned about a clinical trial of a new drug and then I ended up on that drug. Thank you!

— Annual survey

Partners

Patient Empowerment Network

Transcript | How Can Clinical Trial Sponsors Help Patients With Cost?

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:          

Now is there anything that sponsors can do, Andy, related to the costs that people may have in being in certain trials? Where do we stand with that?

Andy Lee:                         

Yeah, so I’ll just touch on the distribution first and then get into the costs because they are linked. When we prosecute global trials – we’ve had a very U.S. centric discussion so far. But cancers present differently in different geographic regions of the world. And so, when we want speed out of our trials. You want me to shorten that timeline and get drugs to market quickly. I do it internationally and in some cancers like esophageal cancer or some of the gastrointestinal cancers, Asia has a much higher prevalence of these cancers. 

And we do a greater proportion of work there. We always include multi countries studies. And U.S. may have a greater proportion in other areas. So, we balance that out to optimize speed. Of course, with clinical trials the cost structure around the globe is very different. But let’s talk about U.S. We have spoken about a saturated core of clinical trial sites that we all go to. And I speak generally now for all sponsors. And we are all looking to optimize and get great efficiency.

At the same time, we realize we have many underrepresented geographies and ethnic groups – and not just ethnic groups, but under resourced populations. And so, what we’ve been thinking about is how can we support people, and support people at all levels. And so, we start off with thinking about the cost structure, and we obviously pay clinical sites for what they do. But we will support all sorts of things. We’ve been negotiating with Uber and Lyft so we can build that into automated transport for patients. 

Again, the IRB has to approve that. We are looking at ways to augment that they are not out-of-pocket for things. And we’ve been talking a lot with a group called Lazarex Foundation who has really expanded into under resourced communities and found ways to ensure that they have daycare and different access for those patients. We have worked extensively now to look at outreach programs into communities that typically wouldn’t be in trials. We are focusing in two areas right now as we speak.

One is next generation of HIV medicines and the other one is in prostate cancer. And we’ve got a large program rolling out in prostate cancer. So, what we are doing is going into sites and we have put together training videos and training materials. And we are looking at cultural competency. So, it starts at the site. Are they culturally competent to engage a different community? And we’ve spoken about working with the community churches, community education systems.

And so that starts with cultural competency. I have a woman, Madelyn Goday, who works on this day and night in my organization. And she’s very strong at this. It’s early days, but if we can show that it works in one or two therapeutic areas and cancer types, we’d expand it further and further. But we can’t just have a shotgun approach and just go and do 100 sites and hope it works. Hope isn’t a good strategy. We are working systematically to engage different people. And as appropriate and approved by ethics committees, we will support all of these communities and help build infrastructure and capacity. 

Those are important things for us. But as I said, where appropriate and where it’s sustainable. We can’t just throw money at something in the hopes something sticks. We have to have something sustainable and it goes to what Ken says, and that’s education and providing resources and materials. And we’ve used quite a lot of Ken’s materials in multiple clinical trials. Thank you for that, Ken. It’s been really helpful for us.

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.

View next