Poor testing prevents 156,000 cancer patients getting life-saving drugs

18 May 2017

Peter Keeling, CEO, Diaceutics. Image: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Medtech company says cancer patients in the US and Europe are missing out on real chance of survival.

Irish drugs analytics firm Diaceutics has warned that as many as 156,000 cancer patients are missing out on life-saving drugs every year due to less than optimal diagnostic testing.

Every year, 1.7m cancer patients in the US and Europe undergo tests to determine if there are any precision drugs available that will work better with their genetic make-up than widely prescribed drugs.

‘Due to questionable diagnostic test practices, patients are missing out on live-saving drugs’

However, Diaceutics CEO Peter Keeling warns that “substandard” testing practices are causing pharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe to miss out on up to €15bn in potential revenues annually.

The company’s research has found that even about four years after new diagnostic tests become available, just 50pc of patients that may be eligible for precision drugs will have been tested by their physician. Therefore, as this data doesn’t take into account the patients that haven’t been tested, Keeling said that the figure could actually be as high as €50bn in lost revenue for the industry.

The era of precision medicine

“Precision medicine is already making a huge impact on people’s lives,” Keeling said.

“However, due to questionable diagnostic test practices, patients are missing out on live-saving drugs, while pharmaceutical companies are missing out on the opportunity to reach those patients. Our real-world, real-time research is showing the gaps that exist today.”

Diaceutics provides pharma companies with valuable insights from patient-testing data through partnerships with more than 230 laboratories that process diagnostic tests.

The company’s data and analytical insights help pharma companies understand testing patterns and integrate proper diagnostic testing into patients’ treatment.

Diaceutics has so far helped with the planning and launch of more than 200 drugs worldwide.

“Many of the oncology patients that are tested for precision drugs are seriously ill. Physicians therefore need to be able to see the results of those tests as soon as possible. However, novel tests often suffer from issues with sample management, high rates of false negatives and delayed turnaround times, which lead to patients missing out on the drugs they need and therefore potentially facing a much bleaker prognosis.

“Diaceutics is working to change this by bridging the gap between pharmaceutical companies and diagnostics,” said Keeling.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years