I’ve lost four friends to colon cancer this year and I’m afraid I’ll lose more before the year is out. While we have effective treatments for some, we still lose far too many to this disease. I wanted to know what I could do as a survivor and patient advocate to make a difference, so I went to Bio Summit 2015 to find out.
Developing new treatments is time consuming and expensive. It can take ten or more years from idea to approval and the cost can exceed $1 billion. Patient and advocate involvement is essential to speeding up the process.
Patients and advocates can get involved at the idea stage—we don’t want researchers wasting effort developing unwanted treatments. Researchers need to know several things: What is the number one problem confronting colon cancer patients? How much risk (side effects) are you willing to tolerate for a specific benefit? What do you think is a meaningful benefit?
Clinical trials are an essential part of the development process, as every new therapy must go through a clinical trial. They are not just for late term stage IV patients. Want a drug to reduce nausea and vomiting? It needs a clinical trial. Want to reduce neuropathy? That needs a clinical trial. The longer it takes to recruit patients for trials, the longer it takes to get the treatment approved.
The FDA is charged with making sure new treatments are safe and effective. Agencies like the FDA that oversee the development process need to hear the patient’s voice. You can help shape their opinions on treatments. (Again, how much risk are you willing to take with a treatment for a specific reward?)
Government and industry both realize the vital role patient and patient advocates play in new treatment development. They want you involved from the very beginning to the very end of treatment development. Keep in touch with the Colon Cancer Alliance—visit our website for updates and call our Helpline at 877-422-2030. We also have a Clinical Trials Matching Service. We will do this together.
Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have additional questions about colon cancer screening or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030.