A Message from the President
The long sought after and hard won clinical value of immunotherapy is evident everywhere. It is seen by nurses, physicians, coordinators, patient advocates, research scientists and, most importantly, by patients and their families. The implications of these clinical successes are quite broad, and there has been a nationwide push to evaluate therapeutic strategies based on their overall value. Value must take into account measures beyond financial cost, including durable clinical outcomes, new side effects, and impact on patients’ quality of life. Although current value frameworks centered on cancer care have taken the first steps to address and lead the discussion on how we should determine the value of cancer treatment, current value models do not fully take into account the unique aspects of cancer immunotherapeutics. As a result, uncertainty remains as to the real benefits of this therapeutic modality.
The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) was the first organization to initiate the important dialogue surrounding the value of cancer immunotherapy, led by Immediate Past President Howard Kaufman, MD, FACS. At the organization’s 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting in 2015, a symposium brought together experts including academic scientists and physicians, experts in healthcare coverage and policy, representatives from industry, and patient support representatives. Key aspects of the value proposition for cancer immunotherapy were discussed, including immune biomarker development, the cost of innovation and payor as well as patient perspectives on what constitutes “value.”
Building on the success of the 2015 symposium, a “Value of Cancer Immunotherapy Summit” was held as part of the SITC 31st Annual Meeting last month. Academic physicians, industry professionals, health economists, third-party payors and patients discussed critical issues, including evaluation of current value models in development; economic outcomes of cancer therapy; patient, payor and industry perspectives; and the value of predictive biomarkers. Extended panel discussions with audience participation helped to identify gaps in currently developing value models and provided suggestions for optimizing the value framework that specifically applies to the unique aspects of cancer immunotherapy.
SITC is uniquely positioned to lead the discussion on the value of cancer immunotherapy. As the only professional society dedicated to improving cancer patient outcomes by advancing the development, science and application of cancer immunology and immunotherapy, SITC draws on the expertise of its membership, which includes representatives from academia, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, regulatory agencies and patient advocacy groups. SITC will continue this discussion to ensure that patients are able to understand, evaluate and access therapeutic options that offer them the best outcomes.
Your membership lends support to SITC’s efforts in advancing research, education and scientific exchange about cancer immunotherapy. Now is the time to renew your membership for 2017. If you are not a member, I strongly encourage you to join SITC – the world’s leading member-driven organization dedicated to professionals working in the cancer immunotherapy field. With a strong membership base, we can move closer to making cancer immunotherapy a standard of care and the word “cure” a reality.
Finally, on behalf of SITC, I would like to wish you a happy holiday season and thank those who volunteered their time to SITC this past year. Your dedication to the society and the field tangibly moves cancer immunotherapy towards greater impact for patients.
Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD