The OBR Blog

This year’s ASH Annual Meeting will be chock-full of interesting, informative, and clinically useful presentations, according to a whirlwind tour of highlights presented at a pre-meeting Webinar by ASH President Charles Abrams, MD, and Stephanie Lee, MD, ASH Secretary.

Starting with the most immediately clinically applicable studies, Dr. Lee singled out two studies of approved agents in narrow disease states: Abstract 182 and 145.

Abstract 182 provides results of the Phase 3 ALCANZA trial comparing brentuximab versus physician’s choice of therapy (methotrexate or bexarotene) in CD30-expressing cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), a relatively rare disease. The study included 128 randomized patients followed for 17.5 months. For the primary endpoint, overall response rate (ORR) at 4 months, brentuximab was significantly superior to physician’s choice of therapy: 56% versus 13%, respectively (P<.0001). Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 16.7 months versus 3.5 months, a highly significant difference favoring brentuximab (P<.0001).

“This study showed that brentuximab has a significant advantage over the other two options used to treat CTCL,” Dr. Lee told listeners.

Abstract 145 presents final results of the Phase 3 LyMa trial that compared rituximab maintenance every 2 months for 3 years versus observation in younger patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in response after undergoing autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). The study included 240 patients with a median follow-up of 50 months. Four-year event-free survival (EFS) was 78.9% for rituximab maintenance versus 61.4% for observation (P=.0012). Four -year progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were also improved with rituximab maintenance therapy. Four-year PFS was 8.2.% versus 64.6%, respectively (P=.0005), and 4-year OS was 88.7% versus 81.4%, respectively (P=.0413).

“This study provides good evidence that rituximab improves outcomes after ASCT in younger patients with mantle cell lymphoma. Some hematologists are already doing this, and now there is evidence [to support this practice] from a Phase 3 trial,” Dr. Lee noted.

Abstract 6 showed a 34% reduction in risk of progression or death with obinutuzumab versus rituximab as induction and maintenance therapy in about 1200 patients with previously untreated follicular lymphoma with Stage 3 or 4 or bulky Stage 3 disease, according to primary results of the Phase 3 GALLIUM trial.. Patients were randomized 1:1 to obinutuzumab versus rituximab (both anti CD20 agents) at induction. No difference in complete response or partial response was observed after induction therapy. Patients continued on maintenance therapy for 2 years. More Grades 3 and 5 severe adverse events occurred with obinutuzumab.

“These data show that obinutuzumab is more effective in prolonging time to relapse, but the caveat is greater toxicity,” Dr. Lee commented.

CAR-T THERAPY

Dr. Abrams highlighted two studies using genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. A late-breaker (Abstract LBA 6) showed that Kte-CD19 CAR T cells induced responses in 76% of 101 patients from 22 institutions with refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in the pivotal Phase 2 ZUMA-1 trial. ORR was 76% (47% complete response [CR] rate and 29% partial response rate [PR]). PFS was 56% at 3 months, which Dr. Abrams called “impressive.”

“The T-cells were engineered within 17 days from apheresis, which is a relatively quick turnaround. This treatment is not for the faint of heart, but it does induce complete remissions in some patients. This novel technology can be extended to many centers in the community, even those with no experience using CAR T,” Dr. Abrams noted.

A second study (Abstract 650) found that anti-CD22 CAR T cells had encouraging results in a small study of 9 “tough to treat” patients (children and young adults) with relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). All 9 patients had at least 1 prior transplant, and 2 had undergone 2 prior transplants. Patients had chemotherapy and then were given anti-CD22 CAR T. Interim results at 1 month showed that 4 of the 9 patients had CR with no evidence of minimal residual disease.

“This approach with CAR T is a little different, aimed at a different target of T cells with CD 22 expression. This is encouraging, suggesting that the target of CAR T can be expanded. Someday we may be using a panel of targets,” Dr. Abrams commented.

OTHER HEMATOLOGIC MALIGNANCIES

Patients with high-risk chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) were randomized 2:1 to lenalidomide maintenance versus placebo after front-line chemotherapy in the randomized, controlled, German CLLM1 trial (Abstract 229). Interim analysis of the first 89 patients of a planned enrollment of 200 showed such robust results for lenalidomide, that the trial was stopped early. At a median follow-up of 17.7 months, PFS was not yet reached in the lenalidomide-treated group versus 14.6 months for placebo. Patients treated with lenalidomide were 80% more likely to be converted to node-negative disease compared with placebo. No difference in OS was observed between the two groups with short follow-up.

“These interim findings suggest that lenalidomide maintenance is beneficial in high-risk CLL. We need continued follow-up of these patients,” Dr. Lee commented.

Although the investigational drug pacritinib was found effective in myelofibrosis in a Phase 3 trial (Abstract LBA 5), development of the drug was put on hold by the FDA due to potential cardiovascular excess deaths and hemorrhagic events in the PERSIST-1 trial. The Phase 3 PERSIST-2 study evaluated pacritinib versus best available therapy (including the JAK inhibitor ruloxitinib in 44%) in 311 patients with myelofibrosis and platelet counts <100,000 µ/l. Patients were randomized 1:1 to pacritinib versus best available therapy. Pacritinib was superior, with a 35% reduction in spleen volume, and significantly more improvement in time to symptoms at 24 weeks. Although some gastrointestinal and hematologic toxicities were observed with pacritinib, no difference between the two treatment arms was seen in cardiovascular events and bleeding.

PERSIST-2 is the only randomized trial to date in patients with myelofibrosis and thrombocytopenia and prior JAK2 inhibitor exposure. “This study is intriguing. Pacritinib did improve symptoms and spleen volume, but it remains to be seen what the FDA will do,” Dr. Lee said.

Another late-breaking abstract (LBA 1) was based on the randomized, controlled, Phase 3 StaMINA trial, which compared three different approaches to multiple myeloma in transplant-eligible patients using upfront autologous hematologic cell transplant (auto HCT): auto HCT plus RVD (bortezomib, lenalidomide, dexamethasone); tandem auto HCT plus lenalidomide maintenance (TAM); and auto HCT with lenalidomide maintenance (AM). The study enrolled 758 patients. At 38 months, PFS and OS were similar in all three groups. The probability of PFS was 57%, 56%, and 52% for the three approaches, respectively; the probability of OS was 86%, 82%, and 83%, respectively.

This is the largest randomized U.S. transplant trial in myeloma. “Results of StaMINA suggest that the addition of more chemotherapy or more transplant does not improve outcomes. All of these are reasonable approaches,” Dr. Lee noted.

SESSION ON QUALITY

Turning to a different area, Dr. Lee cited a Special Symposium on Quality of Care in the Era of Health Improvement Technology. Three different speakers will tackle the question of whether the new technology is having an impact on patient care.

“I hope this symposium will dig into the current experience for patients and for researchers,” she said.

“There is something for everyone at the upcoming ASH meeting,” she noted.

 

November 21, 2016 - 06:11 pm comments0 Comments

By: Deni Deasy Boekell, Senior Director, Commercial Strategies & Market Access, Kantar Health

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Market forces continue to drive oncology practices to align, invest and adapt to capture patient volume, adjust to decreasing payer reimbursement, optimize revenue, and reduce financial risk.

Affiliation with or even acquisition by an integrated delivery network (IDN) is an attractive option for many practices, offering access to increased patient volume, higher reimbursement through the institution, protection from carrying costs and patient cost-share risk, reduced administrative burden, and inclusion in payment models moving toward integrated patient care.

According to our survey of 150 independent community-based and 80 hospital-owned or -affiliated oncology practices, 35% of independent community oncology practices engaged in some form of business association within the past two years; the majority were affiliations with a hospital/IDN. In addition 22% of oncology practices are considering affiliation with an IDN in the next 24 months.

This means more and more cancer patients are receiving their care through an IDN-affiliated or -owned practice, and those practices are leading investment in capabilities, reimbursement and business models. This shift in oncology care through IDNs is affecting patient treatment in three ways: increasingly centralized management of oncology, focus on cost effectiveness catalyzed by novel reimbursement, and adaptations to increased patient involvement in care planning.

1. IDN centralized management of affiliated oncology practices

Centralized management is being implemented through increasing CPOE/decision support tools to help select drugs, the use of pathways with management controls (e.g., step requirements), and centralized drug acquisition and/or formulary. More than 80% of IDN practice respondents reported being subject to IDN mechanisms that affect prescribing.

IDNs most often use decision support tools, centralized drug formularies and pathways to direct oncologists toward preferred therapies. Pathways are a key mechanism by which IDNs may influence oncologists’ treatment decisions, and IDN oncologists are more likely to be exposed to pathways than are their independent community practice colleagues.

2. Increasing focus on cost effectiveness catalyzed by novel reimbursement

Almost half (46%) of IDN oncologists reported participating in an accountable care organization (ACO) in 2016 (up from 40% in 2015), affecting one-third of their patients on average. ACO-participating IDN practices are more likely to focus on cost-effective treatments, reduction in redundant care, and the quality of life for their ACO patients.

3. Adaptation to increased patient involvement in care planning

While IDN practices most often direct patients with cost concerns to financial support, they do so less frequently than independent community practices. The IDN oncologists are also increasingly looking to less costly drug alternatives in response to affordability issues.

Of note, the 26% response indicating use of less costly drug options in the IDN is up from 13% in 2015.

IDN oncologists are more likely to have end-of-life planning discussions with patients (frequently triggered by changes in patient status) and to have these discussions result in reductions in the use of therapeutic options for most of these patients.

IDNs are structurally different from community practices, and these differences are influencing traditional cancer care delivery and decision making. Given the growing importance of IDNs in oncology care, it’s important to understand how this shift will change cancer care delivery and patient care.

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