Cancer patients facing delays in getting ‘innovative’ drugs

A new analysis report has found that most innovative cancer drugs face delays in reaching patients.

Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research have now discovered that cancer patients are waiting longer for innovative new cancer drugs than for more conventional treatments, which suggests that the most “exciting” new therapies have not been successfully fast tracked.

As such, the team uncovered that the higher the level of innovation of a cancer drug, the longer it was taking to pass through clinical trials, licensing and appraisal for availability on the NHS.

The most innovative cancer drugs took 3.2 years longer to go from the filing of the patent through to NHS patients than low-innovation treatments, the data published in Drug Discovery Today found, as between 2000 and the end of 2016, the most innovative new drugs took 14.3 years to progress from patenting through to availability on the NHS – compared with 13.5 years for medium-innovation drugs and 11.1 years for the least innovative treatments.

Apparently, much of the delay seemed to occur in the period from the start of a phase I trial through to EMA authorisation – which lasted an average of 8.9 years for the most innovative drugs compared with 8.7 years for medium-innovation drugs and 6.8 years for the least innovative.

The study details the “major progress being made against cancer, with the average number of drugs being licensed each year more than doubling over the last decade”, commented study leader professor Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research.

But, he continue to say “it also makes clear that our regulatory systems are not keeping pace with advances in the science. It is taking longer for new drugs to reach patients and, alarmingly, the delays are longest for the most exciting, innovative treatments, with the greatest potential to transform the lives of patients.”

The Institute now needs to raise less than £10 million for its new £75 million Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, which will house the world’s first drug programme to be dedicated to combating cancer evolution and drug resistance.

Anna Smith – Pharmatimes