HRA Reports Growing Number of Oncologists Following Clinical Pathways, Yet Standard Treatment Algorithms Exclude Some Cancer Drugs

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Trend toward standardized cancer care may benefit most patients and offer savings, but is challenging for drug companies, January 2015 market research study finds.

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As the use of clinical pathways increases, drug manufacturers will be more pressed than ever to justify inclusion of their cancer drugs in one or more pathways, says the HRA study.

A growing number of oncologists are following standard, scientifically proven treatment algorithms called clinical pathways, tools designed to help oncologists make decisions based on best practices rather than habit or other factors. While the pathways leave room for individualized care, they also threaten to leave some cancer drugs by the wayside in the future, according to a new study from HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics, a leading consultative healthcare market research practice.

“Since these treatment pathways are designed to offer the best course of treatment for 80% to 90% of patients with the corresponding form of cancer, drugs that aren’t on pathways will be challenged to gain market share,” said Denis Goldenberg, vice president of oncology market research at HRA. The pathways are developed for specific cancer diagnoses based on the availability of supporting data for treating a particular type of cancer, but rarely in a head-to-head fashion. It is conceivable that an otherwise effective drug could face market access issues due to exclusion from these clinical pathways if its development did not account for these important criteria required by pathway developers.

According to the new HRA study, “Evidence-Based Oncology: Future of Incentive-Driven Pathway Adherence,” as the use of clinical pathways increases, drug manufacturers will be more pressed than ever to justify inclusion of their cancer drugs in one or more pathways. More insurance carriers are requiring and encouraging use of clinical pathways – including offering financial rewards for staying with a pathway – to improve patient outcomes and lower costs.

“It's our belief that pathways programs save on the order of 10% to 15% of the drug bill, something like that,” said one of the national payers interviewed in the study, an unnamed medical director. This estimate doesn’t take into consideration the savings from use of biosimilars over use of their branded counterparts – another reason for instituting such pathways.

The study shows that oncologists and insurance carriers are aligned and working closely together on pathways. Three-fourths of the oncologists surveyed said they believe insurance companies are motivated by cost savings and the goal of standardizing patient care for better outcomes.

HRA used multiple sources to develop the study, including interviews with oncologists and regional and national payers such as Aetna, Humana, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Priority Health.

Visit to learn more about HRA and read additional insights about the growing use of clinical pathways in oncology, payer rewards for pathway adherence and implications for drug manufacturers provided by “Evidence-Based Oncology: Future of Incentive-Driven Pathway Adherence.”

About HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics
HRA – Healthcare Research & Analytics is a consultative healthcare market research practice leveraging a flexible spectrum of solutions to support decision making and strategy development across healthcare channels with expertise in health systems. HRA’s team of highly experienced market researchers combines deep domain expertise in healthcare, science, business and statistics with a passion for uncovering insights. HRA’s portfolio of offerings encompasses quantitative and qualitative, custom and syndicated market research services to support the business needs of the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device markets – including stakeholder identification and management as well as field force effectiveness evaluation and sales training optimization. HRA’s people and its products provide the healthcare market with actionable intelligence – facilitating better business decisions. HRA is a subsidiary of Plainsboro, N.J.-based Michael J. Hennessy Associates, Inc. (MJH), which combines the power of an established network of publications and websites with the customer service focus and customization capabilities of a boutique firm. To learn more about HRA or MJH, please visit or


Media Contacts for HRA
Becky Taylor, 609-240-6886 or becky(at)btaylorpa(dot)com
Kevin M. Kelly, 973-240-1200 or kkelly(at)hraresearch(dot)com

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