Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed October 18, 1996
Contact: Scott Turner

President's Cancer Panel convenes in Providence

Brown medical school hosts cancer research and managed care hearing

The President's Cancer Panel will take testimony Oct. 25 in Providence on how managed care is affecting basic cancer research. The public is invited to attend the 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. meeting at Rhode Island Hospital's George Auditorium.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Who pays for cancer research under managed care and who actually does the research?

That and other important questions about how managed care affects basic cancer research will be discussed at a public hearing of the President's Cancer Panel, a fact-finding body which reports directly to President Bill Clinton. The hearing, titled "Managed Care's Role in the War on Cancer," will take place Friday, Oct. 25, from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the George Auditorium at Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy St.

"Managed care and Medicare are increasingly restricting the ability of physicians to conduct clinical research," said Dr. Donald J. Marsh, dean of the Brown University School of Medicine. "Development of complex, experimental therapies requires longer inpatient stays, more frequent outpatient visits and more expensive testing than are available under conventional care protocols. These restrictions [on conducting clinical research] are short-sighted, because they discourage the very research that is critical to the development of cost-effective new treatment. Brown is pleased to host one of four meetings around the nation to discuss this important problem."

The three-member panel will take testimony from New England doctors, researchers, administrators, cancer survivors, advocacy groups and health-care consumers on strategies for evaluating new cancer drugs and therapies under managed care and on the role of pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms in clinical trials.

The panel will explore the effects of managed-care cost-cutting measures on cancer research efforts. For example, some plans may limit patient access to trials or studies at the research site of their choice. Delays in treatment due to lengthy pre-approvals may even preclude patient participation in certain studies.

Of particular interest is how doctors under managed care may conduct initial, or Phase I, clinical studies of cancer drugs in human subjects, said Dr. Paul Calabresi, a member of the President's Cancer Panel and a professor of medicine at Brown, who is based at Rhode Island Hospital. Phase I studies define how a cancer drug works in the body. This includes appropriate dosage, distribution and disposition in the body, and an assessment of beneficial and adverse effects.

"Managed care is in a position to have a tremendous population of people who could be enrolled in clinical cancer research studies," Calabresi said. "There are opportunities under managed care but also potential obstacles. The panel wants to learn where the trouble spots are."

Early in 1997, the panel will assemble this year's testimony for the President and offer ways to overcome any roadblocks to cancer research and quality care for those under managed care.

The Providence meeting is the panel's third this year. Previous meetings were held in Seattle and San Antonio. The fourth and final 1996 meeting will take place next month at Duke University in Durham, NC.

For information on the meeting, call (401) 863-3232.