The Complexities of Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy treatments are very complicated, beyond the basic definition of using the patient’s immune system to fight off a disease like cancer. Depending on the treatment, some therapies work to boost the immune system, others train the immune system to attack the specific cancer cells and others genetically modify the patient’s own cells to help attack the cancer cells.
Initially some immunotherapies were considered for the later lines of therapy and are now being considered for use in the first line. They may be used as monotherapy or in combination with traditional chemotherapy agents. These therapies also have different side effect profiles than chemotherapy. And, new research may indicate that treating side effects with antibiotics may even have a negative effect on the immunotherapy treatment.1
With five immunotherapy treatments approved for commercial use and another 12 in clinical trials, potentially being considered for more than 25 varied indications, how are providers to understand what is best for their patients? And how do they know what treatment to consider for first line or second line of treatment? Given the potential financial toxicity associated with these new treatments, how do providers know that their patients will see significant enough outcomes to warrant the difference in price between that and traditional chemotherapy?
Life Science companies are tasked with gathering data to understand how their treatments work in specific sub-populations. They need retrospective or longitudinal data to be able to demonstrate their drug’s effectiveness in the real-world setting. With the understanding companion diagnostics needed, time to treatment, concomitant conditions and outcomes, manufacturers can identify opportunities for further education for providers, addressing their most pressing needs and provide payers with clinical and financial outcomes information that will help ease the reimbursement process.