The inequity facing Australians diagnosed with rare or less common (RLC) cancers costs lives. Those diagnosed with RLC cancers are almost twice as likely to die as those with common cancers. RLC patients – who account for approximately a third of cancers and half of all cancer deaths – don’t have access to the same treatment options, or support, as those with more common cancers. The brief from Rare Cancers Australia (RCA) to Ogilvy was clear: Make a difference, attract trial funding, disrupt the status quo and increase access to medicines for RLC cancer patients.
In 2016, Ogilvy attended RCA’s annual Canberra Forum where ideas were tabled to improve the outcomes and support for RLC cancer patients. These discussions – along with the support for reform among Australia’s top clinicians, advocates and patients – strongly informed our approach to 2017. Despite the challenges, there are innovative, targeted treatments available to common cancers patients that could be life-extending for RLC cancer patients. Unfortunately, most RLC cancer patients cannot access these medicines without clinical trial or self-funding. Compounding the issue, Australia’s current models for drug discovery, development and subsidised access aren’t designed to deliver outcomes for RLC cancer patients. The small patient populations for each RLC cancer indication mean fewer global clinical trials and insufficient data to support registration and reimbursement locally.
In collaboration with Rare Cancer Australia’s (RCA) and the expertise of PwC, Ogilvy proposed the development of a report: Rare Solutions: A Time To Act. The goal was to rally all stakeholders to agree solutions that could drive actionable change. The engagement strategy saw all stakeholders engaged from the outset. This included leading clinicians, researchers, patients, health economists, the Department of Health, PBAC, TGA, the Office of the Minister for Health and the pharmaceutical industry. The Federal Health Minister was invited to respond to the report at CanForum2017.
The Federal Health Minister – the Hon Greg Hunt MP – responded instantly to the report:
- He made a commitment to identifying a new PBAC/TGA process for pan-tumour assessments, allowing faster access to treatments for RLC cancers.
- He announced that 20% of the Medical Research Future Fund allocation would be earmarked for research into RLC cancers.
- He invited proposals for new clinical trials for RLC cancers as part of a $13 million package.
The campaign also secured 452 media items, generating 31.7 million potential impressions.