Good news for pharma reps! Meanwhile, outcomes researchers have their work cut out for convincing oncologists of the value of real-world evidence (RWE). The latest Oncology Insights, an annual publication of Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions, finds that more than two-thirds of oncologists polled agree that pharma reps “play an important role in helping them learn about new drugs.” A related set of questions in the publication show that RWE awareness is rising among oncologists, but that a significant fraction still value RWE only for patients who are underrepresented in clinical trials; only 15% believe that RWE can inform treatment decisions for most or all treatment decisions.
The conventional view of oncologists is that they are among the most demanding of medical specialties in seeking solid clinical evidence of therapeutic value, and have the least tolerance of sales pitches. And while that may still be true in the largest sense, there has been a virtual explosion of new cancer therapies, new modes of action, and simply more knowledge about oncology disease states. Help is sought wherever it can be had. “These results show the value of face-to-face interactions with healthcare providers,” notes Joseph DePinto, president of Cardinal Specialty.
Ranked by highest value to respondents, the information categories that reps are providing include:
- Information on patient access and assistance programs (64%)
- Staff education (42%)
- Patient education materials (24%)
- Samples and/or starter kits (19%)
- Connecting with medical science liaisons (13%).
For the RWE topic, the report finds that oncologists’ understanding of RWE is shaky: less than half “correctly identified observational data outside a clinical trial as RWE, and that a “surprising low proportion” of respondents understood the various sources of RWE (such as claims records or social media). “These responses suggest there remains a significant gap in understanding of RWE,” writes Bruce Feinberg, chief medical officer at Cardinal Specialty.
There is additional data on oncologists’ information sources, and their use of RWE, in the full report.