Overcoming Barriers to Biomarker Testing in Cancer

Eli Lilly and Company  | October 23, 2020

Tags |  Cancer, Policy, Science

Cutting-edge research has led to a new generation of medicines that specifically target the underlying genes and molecules that drive many forms of cancer. This has opened up a new era of “personalized medicine,” in which health care teams are able to leverage knowledge of specific molecular mutations, called “biomarkers,” to determine which treatments may work best for their patients.

Testing for these biomarkers is a necessary component of oncology medicine, as the results guide patients and their health care providers towards the most promising course of treatment. However, despite their importance, biomarker tests are underutilized.

Recent research, conducted by the IQVIA Institute and supported by Lilly, outlines policy barriers standing in the way of full adoption of biomarker testing and potential solutions for how we might overcome them.

IQVIA identifies several barriers that are preventing the oncology field from harnessing the full potential of biomarkers, including low awareness of biomarker testing, inadequate reimbursement rates for laboratories and pathologists, high out-of-pocket costs for patients,  and delays in turnaround times for test results. These hurdles ultimately diminish care for patients, especially those with fast-progressing cancers, who require treatment as quickly as possible.

Here's an infographic featured in IQVIA’s recent report, “Optimizing Oncology Care Through Biomarker Adoption,” details the various barriers to widespread biomarker adoption along the oncology care delivery continuum.

To overcome these barriers, several changes must be implemented, including adaptation of insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage and reimbursement and increased collaboration between major oncology and pathology organizations so that treatment and testing guidelines not only stay up to date but provide actionable information to help direct appropriate, timely biomarker testing. It will also be important to integrate biomarker testing into clinical decision support tools and more strongly tie reimbursement of biomarker tests to guideline adherence through creation and use of quality measures. Once these solutions are put into place, patients, oncologists and pathologists will be able to access the full benefits of this exciting, rapidly expanding field.

Every day, scientists at Lilly Oncology and Loxo Oncology at Lilly are gaining new insights that aid in the development and delivery of innovative cancer medicines. Anthony (Nino) Sireci, M.D., vice president, diagnostics development and medical affairs, Loxo Oncology at Lilly, emphasizes that “despite all of the operational, economic and regulatory barriers standing in the way, the momentum of oncology care is in the direction of increasingly targeted therapies.” It is critical that we seek solutions to make testing and the corresponding treatments as widely available as possible.

Download the full report from IQVIA.