AMCP Foundation Research Symposium Q&A with Dr. Donna Rivera
The 9th Annual AMCP Foundation Research Symposium will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 29 from 1-5pm, ahead of AMCP Nexus 2019. We’re excited to explore the “Data Drivers Fostering Innovations in Oncology,” and spoke with symposium presenter Donna R. Rivera, PharmD, MSc, the scientific project officer at the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute on how big data and technology are changing the way we treat cancer and what she’s looking forward to learning at the AMCP Foundation Research Symposium.
Check out our Q&A with Dr. Rivera and register for the symposium today!
AMCP: How is big data and technology changing the way we treat cancer?
DR: Big data in oncology provides an unprecedented opportunity alongside an array of challenges. A major challenge in advancing scientific discoveries through observational cancer research is the fractionation and variation of cancer-related data. Patients seek care across various settings and clinical documentation is completed across disparate systems, generating a multitude of heterogeneous health care data. The ongoing development of data ecosystems and data analytic methods (including AI) are needed to transform abundant real-world data (RWD) into meaningful real-world (RWE), which can be utilized by clinicians and patients for enhanced treatment decision-making.
AMCP: What are some of the key trends you see in cancer care today?
DR: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are a pivotal part of the scientific evaluation process; however, strict inclusion criteria and limited patient participation (3-5%) raise questions about representativeness and generalizability of results. This is a logical opportunity to use RWD, or data for the 95% of patients outside of RCTs, to expand analyses of long term medication outcomes and complement clinical trials. Accelerated development of new drugs guided by the discovery of novel biomarkers is changing cancer care delivery, especially amidst an expanding treatment landscape with increasing use of immunotherapies and oral targeted therapies (newly approved or expanded indication). RWD analyses hold the potential to improve the context of clinical trials by providing supplemental evidence for clinicians to inform evidence-based, cost-effective care.
AMCP: How do you anticipate these trends will impact managed care pharmacy?
DR: Cost can be a substantial barrier to the receipt of new treatment for patients, as the rising cost of cancer care has increased concerns about financial toxicity. Reimbursement practices and providing affordable care for patients is important for managed care.
AMCP: How do you anticipate the role of pharmacists will evolve in the field of oncology?
DR: Pharmacists and health care providers now have a resultant education requisite to learn data science awareness as an integral aspect of clinical practice in the era of big data to not only help maintain clinical equipoise when generating data, but also to function effectively in the delivery of leading-edge cancer care. Data science awareness is a flexible, working knowledge and conversational fluence in the analytical and computational language of data science. As data shapes evidence-based care, pharmacists with clinical data science awareness can expand their role as collaborators on the interdisciplinary team.
With the accessibility of pharmacists as health care providers, there is a clinical opportunity to provide expertise in medication adherence and adverse drug events (ADEs). Non-adherence is the single most important modifiable risk factor (per WHO); non-adherence is a relatively new problem for chemotherapy. Traditional chemotherapeutics are administered with physician oversight, whereas oral medications allow increased patient autonomy of care. From a public health perspective, it is beneficial to have the ability to provide adherence evaluation, especially if adherence is affected by ADEs or toxicities that could be more quickly ameliorated at the point of care through the pharmacy providing safer medication use for patients.
AMCP: What do you expect to learn at the AMCP Foundation Research Symposium?
DR: The most impactful voice is the one that comes from the patient and hearing the perspective of patients is an important reminder of why our field is working as tirelessly as it is to improve patient outcomes and eradicate disease.
With the inherent need for collaboration to understand the most effective way to advance cancer data efforts, meetings such as the symposium are a great opportunity to learn from others and find ways we can work together meaningfully.
(Interview has been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.)