LOS ANGELES, April 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- USCNorris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Lazarex Cancer Foundation are making history with a new program enabling countless cancer patients to choose hope over hospice. IMPACT (IMproving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials) is a first-of-its-kind program combining financial reimbursement, outreach, and educational programs to help cancer patients learn about and access advanced treatment in clinical trials.
The ultimate goal of IMPACT is to create equal access to clinical trials for all patients and prove that by removing the financial barrier to participation that currently exists, we can improve enrollment, retention, and minority participation. The result could lead to better treatments for all, and more quickly. IMPACT involves a revolutionary collaboration between Lazarex Cancer Foundation, Amgen--the Founding IMPACT Sponsor, UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center and USCNorris.
IMPACT exists to educate patients about clinical trials as an opportunity for treatment of advanced cancers and also to reimburse travel expenses for the patient and a companion that are necessary to get to a clinical trial site. When people can't afford to get to trials for treatment, the research suffers. Only 5 percent of qualified patients enroll in cancer clinical trials and the majority of patients say it's because they can't shoulder the additional expense. Travel costs add up quickly for frequent airfare, hotel stays, parking, gas and/or tolls, and many patients can't afford the compounding expenses. As a result, they are forced to choose between simple living expenses and pursuing hope in a clinical trial.
"By offering reimbursements through IMPACT, patients can say 'yes' to participating in clinical trials," said Dana Dornsife, Founder of Lazarex Cancer Foundation. "Consequently, clinical trials see increased patient enrollment, minority participation, and patients are better able to stay the course of the trial. That leads to an improved chance that clinical trials will successfully complete and ultimately more treatments will become FDA approved more quickly."
The Lazarex IMPACT Program will also be studied as a non-therapeutic interventional trial focused on educating cancer patients about clinical trials as a treatment option and presenting the possibility for financial reimbursement at the time of patient consent. USC's community partners and oncology clinics are also encouraged to refer patients to the IMPACT program.
"USC Norris is situated in an area of rich diversity, thus our physicians and researchers are uniquely positioned to gather vital statistics in populations that might otherwise go uncovered," said Darcy Spicer, MD, principal investigator of IMPACT and associate professor of medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC. Dr. Spicer is also chief of medical oncology at USC Norris. "We are hopeful that this study provides more people with access to burgeoning clinical innovations while informing the scientific community about the most effective means to treat cancer."
In addition, IMPACT coordinates a community outreach effort called NeighborGood with other community organizations, advisors, health clinics, and health fairs to raise awareness about topics like prevention, early diagnosis through screenings, clinical trial education, etc., aimed at improving patient health outcomes.
In a 3-year pilot program at Massachusetts General Hospital, IMPACT improved patient enrollment by 29 percent and doubled minority participation.
ABOUT LAZAREX CANCER FOUNDATION: Lazarex is the only non-profit in the United States that assists patients with finding clinical trials and reimburses them for the out of pocket travel costs involved in getting to those clinical trials. In its 13 years, Lazarex has helped more than 4000 patients in clinical trials. In 2018 at the urging of Lazarex, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its official guidance, issuing new language allowing pharmaceutical companies to reimburse patients for travel costs to get to clinical trials, although not all trial sponsors do this.
INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE: Dana Dornsife – Lazarex/IMPACT Founder & Chair of the Board Clara Salas – USCNorris patient Silver Stoltsen – USCNorris patient Dr. Darcy Spicer – Chief of Medical Oncology, USC Norris, Principal investigator of IMPACT