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Don't Let Money Prevent You From Being in a Clinical Trial

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Published on March 9, 2020

Key Takeaways

Many cancer patients are choosing not to participate in clinical trials because of worries about lack of funds for logistics and travel. Watch as Dana Dornsife, from the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, explains there is often help for patients and caregivers.

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Transcript | Don't Let Money Prevent You From Being in a Clinical Trial

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 here with a friend, really to all patients, as they investigate clinical trials and that’s Dana Dornsife from Irving, California who is the founder of the Lazarex Cancer Foundation, which provides support to people who need it so they can be part of a clinical trial. So, people are sometimes ashamed to ask, but they need to travel for a trial, so you’re trying to help.

Dana Dornsife:          

Yeah, so through a family experience I realized the difficulties that occur when patients are diagnosed with cancer, and they need clinical trials to participate in in order to stay engaged in their journey. So, we actually help those patients navigate through their clinical trial opportunities, and then if they are accepted into a trial and choose to participate, we actually provide financial assistance to them. So, they can cover the out-of-pocket expenses associated that usually are a barrier for them to actually say “Yes, I want to participate.” We cover their travel expenses, and we cover the expenses of a travel companion, so they don’t have to go alone.

Andrew Schorr:         

That’s a big deal. We still have a ways to go, Dana. I mean, your foundation is great. There are major pharmaceutical sponsors of trials. Sometimes they provide support. Sometimes they haven’t budgeted for that. We need a broader dialogue, don’t we? So that, first of all, there’s broader support for everyone and that the clinical trial coordinator knows to tell the patient that, right? People don’t know. 

Dana Dornsife:          

Right. So, Lazarex is actually doing something about that, and it’s called IMPACT: Improving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials. Our IMPACT program is engineered to do exactly what you just suggested. That is, by undertaking certain activities at the institutional level, we can actually reach all patients at the institution who are interested in participating in a cancer clinical trial right from—at the beginning of the consent process. So, they know that financial reimbursement is available to them, and we remove that barrier right from the get-go. 

The beauty of the whole IMPACT program is that it’s meant to be a sustainable solution—a sustainable long-term solution to this problem. Pharma is actually funding this whole program for us. We realize that this is an evolutionary process. We always talk about taking revolutionary action to create evolutionary change. We’re in that process of creating change right now. And it’s our sincere hope that five years from now, you and I can have a different conversation where we established a platform of equitable access for all patients to cancer clinical trials. 

Andrew Schorr:         

So, that’s great. We need to make a point. Dana and her family have stepped up to the plate largely with their own funds to support people. And now you’re trying to have a system where these major players, they are contributing as they should.

Dana Dornsife:          

Yes. For a long time, Lazarex went along helping literally thousands of patients, connecting them to trials, and then literally supporting them with their out-of-pocket expenses. That was very noble, but not sustainable. So, now we’ve expanded this effort to really bring around transformational and sustainable change in bench to bedside in relation to enrollment and retention—but also, with a very razor focus on improving diversity in trials as well. 

Andrew Schorr:         

Amen. Right. So, if you say, “Oh my God. There’s no way we can travel to that trial. There’s no way, even if one family member could, that they need support, and we can’t make that happen.” The Lazarex Cancer Foundation is not only helping support that themselves, but they’re a catalyst for change in having others pile on. Did I get it right?

Dana Dornsife:

Absolutely you did. Yes, thank you. And thank you for all that you do too, Andrew.

Andrew Schorr:         

Thank you. Dana Dornsife. The Lazarex Cancer Foundation. What’s your website again?

Dana Dornsife:

Lazarex.org. It’s L-A-Z-A-R-E-X.org.

Andrew Schorr:         

Okay, so if you’re considering a trial, your family members and you just think, “How are we going to make this happen?” They can help you navigate that and perhaps provide support.

Dana Dornsife:          

Give us a call. We’re here to help.

Andrew Schorr:         

All right. All the best meeting here in a conference in Austin where we’re all bringing this message to get everybody to work together. So, we can move research forward to help the people dealing with cancer now and the people who may need these new drugs in the future. Andrew and Dana. 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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