The OBR Blog

July 01, 2015 - 10:07 am Posted in Featured comments0 Comments

Nearly half the oncologists surveyed on the impact of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting said they were likely to make changes in patient treatment based on what they learned during the five-day conference.  Forty-nine percent of oncologists said they were very likely or extremely likely to alter treatment strategies, as compared to 24% surveyed last year.

For the fourth consecutive year, Encuity Research surveyed oncologists immediately after ASCO and received responses from more than 100 clinicians, 90% of whom are engaged in direct patient care. With so much information offered at ASCO that directly impacts treatment decisions, and with four immunotherapy drugs now on the market, it is little wonder that the oncologists found this year’s event to be significantly more valuable than prior years. Sixty-six percent of physicians rated the 2015 conference as very or extremely valuable, 13 points higher than the 53% in 2014.

For the pharmaceutical and biotech companies developing and commercializing oncology products, the perceptions oncologists take away from ASCO are important, as they help shape prescribing behavior for the coming year. Burrowing down into the details of oncologists’ experience yields other interesting data.

There was growing, palpable excitement in the meeting rooms and hallways at ASCO around the development of novel immunotherapies and the promise they hold in future treatment. In the survey, oncologists reported plans to expand their use of immunotherapies, particularly in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) and melanoma, for which there have been few treatment options. Respondents said that advances in PD-1 and PD-L1 pathways were the most important pieces of new clinical information presented at this year’s conference, followed closely by clinical information on immunotherapies.

A great many pharmaceutical and biotech companies presented their research at ASCO in both standing-room-only presentations and poster sessions, but Bristol-Myers Squibb stood out from the pack. When asked which companies provided the most valuable information at ASCO, 72% of oncologists cited Bristol-Myers Squibb, more than twice as many as in 2014. Genentech/Roche was ranked second, cited by 60% of oncologists, with Merck seeing a similarly large increase in ratings over last year and ranking third in terms of overall value provided.

Opdivo (nivolumab) from BMS/Ono was cited by 75% of oncologists (unaided) as the most valuable product-related information at ASCO. The company presented data from three clinical trials, with the highest ranking information from a trial of Opdivo in patients with previously treated advanced or metastatic squamous cell and non-small cell lung carcinoma. Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) also was ranked as among the most valuable product information. Seventy percent of oncologists rated as valuable Merck’s presentation of data on the combination of Keytruda with low-dose Yervoy (ipilimumab) in the treatment of melanoma and kidney cancer. Oncologists also valued highly valued information presented by Merck on the study of Keytruda plus Yervoy as a second-line therapy for treating non-small cell lung cancer.

Clinical trial data and perspective presented on Johnson & Johnson and Genmab’s daratumumab monotherapy followed BMS and Merck, with two-thirds of physicians rating the information as very or extremely valuable.

Another important topic at ASCO this year was molecular diagnostics. In 2016, the National Institutes of Health will be introducing the Precision Medicine Initiative, a program with a goal of developing better prevention and treatment strategies tailored to the individual. Encuity asked ASCO attendees about their views on the emerging topic of molecular diagnostics and found that close to 40% of oncologists report that they are familiar with the Precision Medicine Initiative and three-quarters of respondents report familiarity with the use of molecular diagnostics in cancer treatment. We will delve into the opinions and experiences ASCO attendees have around molecular diagnostics in a future article.

For a cost-conscious industry research such as this helps measure and refines the effectiveness of communications at critical venues like ASCO. Such research allows companies to understand the impact of the clinical information presented and the relative return on promotional efforts designed to educate physicians’ and influence perceptions, understanding, and intent to prescribe.

by Dave Johnson, Vice President, Encuity Research.

For a full version the ASCO Impact Report, please visit

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