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Survey shock for pharma

Published on 04/02/13 at 10:05am
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Lilly-sponsored survey highlights concerns research will be slowed in oncology

A survey released to tie in with today’s World Cancer Day finds that most people feel pharma companies see cancers as a making-money opportunity rather than as a blight to eradicate.

The Lilly Oncology-sponsored ‘PACE Cancer Perception Index’ tests the water of public opinion in six countries, and its findings are not all music to the ears of pharma.

Chief among the negative ones are that 60% of respondents believe pharma manufacturers are more interested in treating cancer than curing it.

“It points to some big challenges that we have as an industry,” said Newton Crenshaw, vice president, Lilly Oncology.

“[We need] to educate people on our motives, what we do and how we work, and also to step up, work as partners with healthcare payers, policymakers and patients, and demonstrate our value,” he added.

The survey sought to bring out what respondents knew - as well as what they thought - about cancer treatment and care, the way healthcare systems work and how patients are involved.

More than 4,000 people took part: most of these (3,009) were from the public, with 663 cancer patients and 669 carers also polled in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

World Cancer Day 2013 focuses on “dispelling damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer”, and it appears that there is much to be done in this area.

For example, more than four out of 10 people believe cancer is a single disease rather than over 200 different illnesses with a large variety of biologic, genetic and environmental causes.

However, most understand that a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence, with many cancers now shifted from acute to more chronic conditions and some even curable.

But the depressed economic backdrop, and the expectation of a 70% increase in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide between 2008 and 2030, has respondents worried.

In every country except Japan the majority of people stated that cancer research will be slowed by the prevailing financial headwind.

And a majority or near majority of people thought that its own country invests too little in fighting cancer - the exception this time being France.

For all that, nearly six in 10 people surveyed were satisfied with the progress made in the fight against cancer over the past 20 years. 

They are also willing to take a greater part in drug development, with 70% saying patients need more opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

Almost 90% would agree to share medical records for the improvement of cancer research and treatment - although Lilly says ‘sizable minorities’ report concerns about the misuse of data.

The survey was carried out by US firm GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, a division of GfK Custom Research North America.

Adam Hill

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