Researchers study care and cures

Pharmaceutical Representative

Why are cancer researchers intensifying their focus on finding ways to make cancer patients feel better as opposed to solely finding ways to treat their disease? Datamonitor, a New York-based market research and consulting firm surveyed a score of patients, medical professionals, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and experts in the quality-of-life research field to answer this question.

Why are cancer researchers intensifying their focus on finding ways to make cancer patients feel better as opposed to solely finding ways to treat their disease? Datamonitor, a New York-based market research and consulting firm surveyed a score of patients, medical professionals, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and experts in the quality-of-life research field to answer this question.

According to those surveyed, vocal consumers and a more sophisticated awareness of patients' needs among health care professionals are major factors driving this trend. Enabling patients to "die with dignity," for example, is increasingly recognized as an important issue in health care, as is managing chronic palliative illness.

The lack of progress toward a cure for cancer may be another reason for the shift in research focus, 23% of those surveyed believe. Available treatments are often toxic and lead to uncomfortable, multiple side effects.

In response, customer groups are pressuring government and the pharmaceutical industry to address this issue. Pharmaceutical companies incorporate quality-of-life data into product development, Phase III clinical trial research, regulatory submissions and marketing initiatives, Datamonitor reported.

In cancer research, quality-of-life data is often used as an outcome measure for patients undergoing aggressive antitumor therapy and patients in the terminal phases of the disease. In patients undergoing palliative care, the fundamental goal is to improve and extend life, in which case the long-term quality of life becomes especially relevant.

Nearly 40% of those surveyed said that they believe pressure from customer groups in the pharmaceutical industry is a major reason why companies are increasing their focus on quality-of-life issues. Some survey respondents indicated that they believe companies don't want to be outdone in this area, and consequently compete to include quality-of-life data in their processes.

For the most part, however, survey respondents were not overly cynical about the growing prevalence of quality-of-life data in cancer research.

For instance, although such data can be used to distinguish the value of one product from another in marketing efforts, only 8% cited cost justification as a driving force behind the trend. PR