Cancer patients to be compensated for alternative medicines, if they worked

Cancer patients should be compensated for medicines that are not intended for their specific type of cancer, if they proved effective, according to oncologists, medicines manufacturers and health insurers. In the coming months, they will therefore experiment with a new tailor-made financial model devised by they themselves, the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital announced on Thursday, ANP reports.

In this financing model, the manufacturer of the medicines and the health insurer share the financial risks. The manufacturer pays for the medicine int he study phase, and the health insurer then reimburses it for patients on who the medicine turned out to work - a pay-for-performance model. The model will be experimented with in a clinical study involving more than 30 Dutch hospitals. If the medicine turns out to be both effective and safe for these individual patients after 16 weeks, the health insurer will reimburse their further treatment.

According to the hospital, research has made it increasingly clear that every tumor is biologically unique. Treatment must therefore increasingly be tailored to the individual patient. For example, a tumor may have a DNA defect that is very rare for most tumor types. There may be a drug that responds to this abnormality, but that has not been registered for the specific tumor type. The oncologists, manufacturers and health insurers want to ensure that patients still have access to medicines that can help them, even if they aren't specifically designed for the type of cancer they have.

In 2016 the clinical DRUP-study started experimenting with using alternative treatments. Small groups of patients who already exhausted their other treatment options were given medicines that are registered for other types of cancer than the one they had. The study produced good results. "Already at the start of the DRUP study the question arose: suppose the medicine works on a patient, how do we ensure that the patient then also has access to it? After all, it is not registered for his or her indication", Emile Voest, medical director at the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, said according to the news wire.