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Canada can accelerate access to breakthrough cancer treatments if it adopts four strategies identified as critical to improving timely access, according to a recent Conference Board of Canada report.

The report, Tomorrow Can’t Wait: The Value of Breakthrough Cancer Treatments for Canadians, included in-depth interviews with leaders in cancer care, patient support and policy change. Their suggestions were:

Adapt the existing Health Technology Assessment (HTA), pricing and price negotiation pathways for rapid uptake of breakthrough therapies so they are available to patients while price negotiations are underway. Current pathways for regulatory approvals and reimbursements need to work in an aligned and timely manner.

Change the way breakthrough therapies are funded to facilitate value-based care and risk-sharing agreements. Other countries have risk-sharing models such as managed entry and outcome-based agreements to deal with the uncertainty associated with the long-term value of breakthrough therapies in achieving patient outcomes.

Create a national strategy and standards that enable and fund access to diagnostic services when breakthrough therapies are approved. National standards and interprovincial collaboration for diagnostics testing would establish consistent processes for technology appraisal and reimbursement that provinces and territories can adapt and adopt.

Expand and integrate health data systems and infrastructure so patient outcomes, real-world evidence and new funding models can be monitored. Better and more timely data are needed to support long-term health system planning, evaluation and implementation of risk-sharing models for new breakthrough treatments.

The report noted that Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and co-ordinated vaccination programs demonstrated that it is possible to work together to find and implement solutions to big problems successfully and quickly. These policy reforms will require a clear mandate from government, accountability frameworks, funding from all sectors and a collaborative operational governance model.

By the numbers

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada

Percentage of all cancer deaths caused by lung cancer

1 in 5
Number of Canadians who will develop lung cancer on their lifetime

Lung cancer survival rate compared to 64% for all other cancers combined

Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.