NCI Attempts to Speed Up Clinical Trials With New “Virtual Formulary” Partnership

As part of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched a “virtual formulary” in an effort to speed up clinical trials by giving researchers faster and more convenient access to medications.

It can take months for researchers and manufacturers to reach an agreement on testing a drug in clinical trials, and the process can take even longer if a combination therapy from medications manufactured by different companies is involved. The new partnership wants to hold manufacturers to tighter timelines when deciding whether to provide drugs for clinical trials.

The “formulary” will start with 15 medications provided by six drug manufacturers, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Genentech, Kyowa Kirin Pharmaceutical Development, Loxo Oncology, and Xcovery. NCI also is in talks with other pharmaceutical companies and estimates that the number of participating manufacturers could double by the end of the year. NCI will act as an intermediary between the drug companies and scientists at 69 NCI-designated cancer centers.

The initiative “will help researchers begin testing promising drug combinations more quickly, potentially helping patients much sooner,” NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, MD, said in a statement.

Source: The Washington Post, January 11, 2017.