Season Close Out of the Benefits Breakfast Club – Summer 2022

Pill bottles with pills next to them and a woman in back

We covered a lot of ground in our 2021-22 season of the Benefits Breakfast Club. While we were not able to deliver in-person sessions, we did take advantage of the virtual platform to reach out to new audiences outside Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Our Advisory Board is planning for our 2022-23 season which begins on August 18th with a lunchtime webinar that is a season review with break out sessions. Attendees will meet virtually to discuss some of the major themes that were addressed in the last year.

Until then we wanted to give those of you who couldn’t make our June 16th BBC webinar on Drug Trends and the Shifting Oncology Treatment Model an overview.

Drug Trends and the Shifting Oncology Treatment Model

This session delivered valuable information on new drug development, access to drugs and other pharmaceutical trends in Canada within the international landscape, most notably oncology-related therapies and diagnostics. Sadly, oncology treatments and diagnostics are not always covered by provincial plans, and patients must rely on their private group plan or pay out of pocket. This creates a difficult situation for those patients who need new solutions to provide them with an opportunity to extend their life once their disease progresses.

  • Brad Millson, General Manger, Oncology, Real World Solutions, IQVIA. According to Brad the landscape for oncology reimbursement can vary significantly by province. Added to this, there are a growing number of oncology submissions in Canada and the time from Notice of Compliance to first provincial listing continues to grow, taking over 1.5 years in 2021. Private payers are often reluctant to reimburse oncology products to fill the gap, with oncology sales making up a smaller portion of the private payer market in the last few years.
  • Robert DiPietro, Medical Affairs Partner, Precision Medicine, Roche Canada. Robert explained comprehensive genomic profiling, its use to detect all known classes of genomic alternations across many clinically relevant cancer genes at once, but also pointed out that broad access to Canadians with cancer is limited. Genomic information is important for the effective diagnosis and management of a patient’s disease. It may allow more effective allocation of budget for targeted therapies, and improve outcomes and/or reduce treatment-related toxicities, reduce time lost from work and need for repeat biopsies. Features include liquid as well as traditional tissue biopsies and the addition of new genes to the panel as they are validated.
  • Priscilla Nykoliation, Senior Manager, External Relations, Private Payers, Astra Zeneca. Priscilla detailed the treatment pathway and impact for patients with a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. Approximately 30% of breast cancer cases will become metastatic after diagnosis, and most breast cancer deaths are due to metastatic disease, 14.3% of which are HER2+. Patients with metastatic disease typically survive for less than 2 years. HER2 targeted therapies have substantially improved outcomes but there is a gap in access for infused therapies that are not reimbursed publicly and not typically eligible under group plans because of the method of delivery.
  • Dr. Aalok Kumar, medical oncologist, BC Cancer Surrey, BC. Dr. Kumar provided insights into the management of early breast cancer from diagnosis to drug access and reimbursement. Breast cancer is a significant burden on women in their prime working years, between the ages of 30-49, and is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women in Canada. Recurrence risk can be significant, 20-30% over 10 years in women with high-risk hormone positive stage I and stage II. New oral-targeted medication has shown a reduction in the risk of recurrence in high-risk hormone groups and those with a BRCA mutation. New targeted therapies for early-stage breast cancer can help prevent recurrence of disease, but there is currently no provincial funding, resulting in a gap in access.

In our post-session evaluation 88% believed that the information presented improved their knowledge of the subject. Messaging from our presenters reached our audience, with attendees reporting takeaways that included:

  • Reason for delays/lag time in access to new therapies
  • Breakthroughs in targeted therapies
  • Value of genomic testing
  • The impact of reimbursement policies on patient access to new therapies
  • Canada is slipping in access over time
  • High cost of new cancer treatments is resulting in access and affordability issues for public and private plans.

Thank you once again to our presenters and all attendees at this session. Thank you all to our season sponsors and to our hard working advisory board members. We look forward to seeing you on August 18th and back in person/via webinar on September 24th in Burlington (hybrid session is planned).