17 November 2021
The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) and Avalere Health recently held a webinar on the use of radioligand therapy and readiness for its future integration in the US. The event, which took place on 3 November, also shared findings from the newly published US Radioligand Therapy Readiness Assessment Framework and accompanying situation analysis report and policy action blueprint.
Michelle Bruno (Avalere Health) moderated the webinar and started the event by introducing Dr Richard Wahl (Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging). As the first speaker, he gave a comprehensive overview of radioligand therapy, outlining its current use in neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and lymphoma, and explaining why health systems should prepare to expand its use in future. Dr Wahl emphasised the importance of equitable access, but also highlighted that many sites already deliver radioligand therapy in the US. However, there are still many logistical challenges to overcome and care inequities that need to be addressed.
Ms Bruno went on to presented key findings from the US radioligand therapy materials, developed by HPP and Avalere Health. This content considers how radioligand therapy can be integrated into every aspect of a health system, looking at five health system domains for readiness: governance, health information, regulation and reimbursement, identified need and service provision. When discussing research and data, a subdomain of health information, Ms Bruno presented a case study on cancer data in the US. She highlighted that data are currently fragmented, creating barriers to implementing data-driven service planning.
These presentations were followed by the first panel discussion, which focused on what radioligand therapy means for people with cancer. During this session, panellists Josh Mailman (NorCal CarciNET Community) and Lisa Taverna (Lymphoma Research Foundation) both shared their personal experiences. Speaking about patient outreach, Mr Mailman said, ‘My journey was one of discovery … I had to go to patient support groups to learn about advanced therapies. He also stressed the importance of ensuring that both patients and physicians not only understand how innovative therapies work, but also know which treatment options are available.
Lisa Taverna built on this point, stating that her ‘goal as a lymphoma survivor is to make sure that as many therapies get into clinical trials as possible … to give people the best treatment options’. Ms Taverna noted that concerns about radiation can be a significant barrier for some people. She emphasised that ‘there needs to be some education around the potential risks, which can be misunderstood and overstated’.
The webinar’s final session looked at future readiness for radioligand therapy and potential barriers to its integration in the US. The panel featured Fran Castellow (Patient Advocate Foundation), Dr Ronald Ennis (American Society for Radiation Oncology) and Dr Anshu Jain (Community Oncology Alliance). The discussion focused on the key areas that need to be addressed when implementing a new therapy, with the most important being the cost of care. Ms Castellow described how costs for both care and services are ‘a key component for patients in their decision-making’. This point was echoed by Dr Jain, who explained that implementing radioligand therapy into new practices requires infrastructure and workforce investments, such as having radiation safety officers.
Other issues raised included the importance of focusing on the social determinants of health, and the value of patient advocacy in policymaking and service planning. Dr Ennis concluded the conversation with a fitting summary:
‘We need a multipronged approach to accelerate the uptake of radioligand therapy, with education efforts from professional societies and advocates. These efforts need to be at all levels – the societal level, the social media level, and the institutional level in every practice environment.’
We would like to thank all the speakers for their contributions, Ms Bruno for moderating the session and attendees for engaging in this discussion.