Senate Report: Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates

 In News

The Australasian Leukaemia & Lymphoma Group (ALLG) welcomed the November 2017 release of the Select Committee Report into funding for research into cancers with low survival rates.


The report called on the Federal Government to make research into low–survival cancers a national health priority as funding was not as easily accessible for different treatment options as it is for other cancers.

ALLG Chairman, Associate Professor Peter Mollee said that after a thorough review of the report, “we believe the 25 recommendations offer a way forward that is both ambitious yet achievable” should the recommendations outlined in the report be adopted.

“A key priority of the ALLG, was to inform the Senate Inquiry of the limited funding options available for clinical trials addressing blood cancers of low survival rate”, said A/Prof Mollee.

The ALLG agree that the government needs to actively remove barriers to common cancer drugs by providing more funding for the repurposing of drugs that already exist, setting up a national biobank that includes tumour samples and access to off–label drugs for low survival rate cancer patients without further treatment options on compassionate grounds.

Associate Professor Peter Mollee
ALLG Chairman, Associate Professor Peter Mollee
ALLG Director, Professor Andrew Roberts

ALLG director, Professor Andrew Roberts also noted that an increase in government funding will “give us the opportunity to increase access to clinical trials and access to ethically collected blood, bone marrow and tissue samples” which is critical to continuing our research into blood cancers with low survival rates.

“The government’s consideration to implement a national network of sample and clinical data is critical to building local capacity and expertise enabling Australian researchers to better develop innovative treatments and tests that directly benefit Australians”, said Prof Roberts.

Throughout the Committee’s enquiry, Senators on the Select Committee took part in hearings in six locations across Australia, received 326 submissions and heard from 117 witnesses.

The ALLG supports all initiatives outlined in the report. Listed below are additional comments relating to select recommendations:

R 3. The ALLG welcomes changes to the Government Clinical trials website. Simplified information for the public is imperative to future clinical trial participation. We would be happy to assist the Government with updates and improvements.

R 4. Lack of access to patient travel subsidy-schemes has a considerable impact on participation in clinical trials. We need to find a way to work together to ensure access by removing financial barriers. This will have an immediate and profound impact for patients and for clinical trial participation.

R 5. Addressing barriers that limit access to international trials will allow for greater global collaboration. Improved funding models will support groups like the ALLG, to enable greater global collaboration. International participation is a key component to advancing research locally and globally.

R 6. We agree that consideration to streamlining ethics and processes between States and Territories will make a significant impact for clinical trials nationally.

R 9. As a smaller organisation, we strongly support increased government educational campaigns to inform the public on the benefits of clinical trials. Smaller organisations do not have the funding for large-scale communication opportunities.

R 10. Any new measures that can assist cancer specialists to achieve better and quicker outcomes is something the ALLG will support. A focus on General Practitioner professional development training would lead to early referrals, which is important to survival rates.

R 11. There has always been difficulty in acquiring national cancer real–world data. We need to have the current barriers to data collection addressed. We require resources and incentives to create a national database and a commitment to maintain the information for research opportunities.

R 12. We welcome the recommendation to have a national network and population biobank established in Australia. The ALLG already have an established Biobank and we would be happy to lead this initiative or be involved in the Government trial program to make samples and data available to assist in new trial development and new technology adoption.

R 13. Genomic research is critical, and the ALLG fully supports the need to increase funding in this area. We believe investment in genomic technologies is needed. This research would further assist the Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patient population.

R 14. The ALLG agrees that the Medical Services Advisory Committee allow genetic testing to be routinely available. However, we also require the facilities and expertise in Australia to be able to establish the testing centres.

R 24. A nationwide strategy would be highly welcomed by the ALLG. It would also be a tremendous achievement to have the target achieved sooner than the proposed 50 per cent by 2027. It would depend on all States and Territories working together.

The full report is available here.