Saturday, February 15, 2014

Did you know that cancer treatments have a need for marketing?

Of course they do! Cancer treatment is a business after all!

Please bear with me for this post. It's going to be bitter. No apologies. I saw a report on Oncology Marketing and it is beyond outrageous. This is one of those times that I wish I had more followers, a bigger voice, and a way to fight back. Coincidentally, I was watching a countdown earlier of influential girls in music and I was ranting about how they use their voices for ridiculousness and how disgusting it is. If you're in a position to be a role model, BE A ROLE MODEL. Why, if you have been blessed with having a voice that matters, would you waste it on how hard you party when there are real issues and voiceless people that depend on you?
I digress.

Please allow me to share with you some excerpts from the marketing report. I'll post it in its entirety at the end of this post.

"However, as cancer treatment becomes increasingly personalized, one problem is becoming frustratingly common: cancer cells can often build up resistance." 
In my words: The 'treatments' are essentially creating stronger, more resilient cancer cells. That's good news for the drug companies profiting off of the development and sales of treatments and eventually, the newer stronger treatments that will be necessary as a result of the current ones.

"On the business front, the big trend has been increased provider-side consolidation and other changes in the business model. With cancer care migrating from the community-based setting to large centers, due to burgeoning administrative requirements, community oncology practices are finding it harder to survive independently. These large cancer systems are growing, boosting their ability to influence the behaviors of network physicians by institutionalizing treatment protocols and pathways. Said Vedarajan, 'The consolidation will result in fewer and more-integrated care settings. There will be more institutional policies and oversight of care.'" 
"OVERSIGHT OF CARE" In my words: Policies will be implemented to streamline the cancer care process. That sounds great until you see that oversight of care is seen as a positive effect since the 'oversights' will be in the business's favor, not in favor of the patient. We're not supposed to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach probably won't work. We're not supposed to realize that lives are being extended marginally, without regard to quality of life. We're not supposed to realize how much it costs.

“Companies need to see payers as at least as important a customer as physicians; and increasingly need to make a case, through outcomes and pharmacoeconomic data, that spending X amount on a therapy for Y months of survival benefit is compelling”  
 In my words: Payers ("broadly described as any entity that takes financial risk") are important customers, but not as important as the physician entrusted with looking out for the life and best interest of the patient. We trust Doctors with the most valuable thing we have - our lives - and money is the motivation of the people they trust who influence their decisions. (Or at least I hope they trust the people they've essentially placed our lives in the hands of when they promote their medicines.)
Also, that quote says "months of survival benefit", not survival. That sentence is a really long way of saying "Make them see that value of what we're charging in relation to how many more months they'll live as a result." When one hears "How much is your life worth to you?" how could one say no to any measure, regardless of cost?

"Brand narratives are shaped well before FDA approval."
In my words: Trust FDA approval at your own risk. I don't. That's another topic, though. If you haven't already, research GMO's, food labeling, and the president of the FDA and see for yourself if the FDA has the consumer's well-being as its motivation. 

Nevertheless, patients are scarce but empowered, so the success of trials—especially small trials of biomarker-expressing patient subsets—depends on their interest and participation. Grassroots outreach/advocacy and unbranded/non-promotional disease education can help stimulate their involvement. The reason why the pre-commercialization process is often the ideal time to engage the patient is that it helps manufacturers build a deep understanding of the patient’s journey from the get-go, with an emphasis on needs identification. This understanding can drive not only the design of clinical trials and trial endpoints, but also more meaningful communications.  “Understanding the patient’s experience and the journey informs how you have conversations with patients and their caretakers; with physicians; with payers and with policy makers." Partnering is one way to forge early bonds. “Patient advocacy groups can be great allies in the early stages clinical trials—pre-commercial—in both helping to participate in that conversation about what is valuable, and in getting the word out about the potential value of it.” 
In my words: Maybe I'm reading too deeply into this one but it seems like the message is to be with the patients from the beginning, partially in an effort to shape the ideas and information from the start, even before there is a specific drug to be sold.

“A lot of the progress we’ve made has resulted in a slowing of the progression vs. outright cure..."
 I need someone to explain this to me because the way I'm reading it, this is the most disgusting sentence in the whole ebook and I sincerely hope I am misinterpreting it.

For the full report,

In short, all I'm seeing is sneaky manipulation and corruption of the misnomered "healthcare" system without regard for life.
What is there to gain from this cycle of keeping people alive, medicated, but not well other than money?

As much as the notion scares me, maybe it is time for a revolution. Our system has become so bastardized into a playground for the rich that money is the only thing of value and the only motivation for anything. When did people become valueless?

Thanks for making it to the end of this post with me. I am certainly open to feedback, including opposing views, as long as they're respectful.
I genuinely hope I am wrong.