New Treatments for Melanoma and Cervical Cancer of Most Interest to ASCO Attendees

By Dave Johnson, Vice President, Encuity Research

At Encuity Research, we’ve been able to determine through our EventAnswers™ audit that pharmaceutical and biotech companies spent $3 billion on events in the past 12 months, with 12% of their budgets going to symposia like ASCO.  With the reality of today’s spend scrutiny, it is vital for manufacturers to understand how the information they present at events affects physician treatment decisions.  Showing up is no longer enough.  When it comes to event themes, there are perception winners and losers.

To get a sense of the impact that the 2013 annual meeting of ASCO had on physicians, we surveyed 100 oncologists who attended the event.  These oncologists highlighted new treatments for melanoma and cervical cancer as the most important subjects of new clinical information.  Specifically, new treatments for melanoma, with an emphasis on PD-1 treatments, were cited by 31% of respondents, while advances in the treatment of cervical cancer, particularly Genentech’s Avastin®, were cited by 20% of respondents (Figure 1).

Oncologists expressed that advances in immunotherapy was a key theme at the conference, in addition to news about glioblastoma multiforme and breast cancer treatments.  When asked what product-related information presented at this year’s ASCO conference they found most valuable, 41% of ASCO attendees highlighted news about Avastin.  Oncologists also cited information on PD-1 treatments (17%), nivolumab (11%), and Bayer/Onyx’s Nexavar® (10%) as the most valuable in 2013.

As in 2012, we found that oncologists overwhelmingly named Genentech as the company providing the most valuable information at ASCO in 2013.  Unaided, 84% of physicians named Genentech as providing the most valuable information, and Bristol-Myers Squibb moved to second with 43% of mentions, followed  by Novartis (29%), Merck (20%), and Celgene (16%).

ASCO attendees recognized Millennium and Seattle Genetics as up-and-coming players in the treatment of cancer; unaided, 13% of ASCO attendees cited Millennium as an up-and-coming company, followed closely by Seattle Genetics.  Sanofi, Pharmacyclics, Onyx, and Astellas rounded out the top companies.

Overall, 2013 ASCO attendees responding to our survey found the conference to be valuable.  Half of respondents rated it as very or extremely valuable, with 86% reporting that it was equal to or more valuable than the 2012 conference (Figure 2).

However, physicians reported that they were less likely to change patient treatment based on 2013 ASCO findings compared with the 2012 conference.  Just 16% of attendees indicated that they were very or extremely likely to change prescribing behavior following the 2013 conference, compared with 40% following the 2012 conference.

Products that had the strongest impact on physicians’ treatment plans included Avastin, Erbitux®, and tamoxifen.  We found that 22% of physicians surveyed will consider using more Avastin following the conference, 10% of physicians would use more Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Erbitux following conference, and 9% of physicians indicated plans to extend use of tamoxifen to 10 years (vs. the current standard of 5 years).

Using research such as this to measure and refine the impact of presenting at critical venues like ASCO is vital for a cost-conscious industry.  Through the use of turnkey research, companies can quickly illuminate the influence of their clinical information and promotional efforts on physicians’ perceptions, understanding, and intent to prescribe.

Download the ASCO Impact Report

Encuity Research—the market research and analytics subsidiary of Campbell Alliance—conducted this survey to evaluate the relevancy and effectiveness of company-sponsored clinical data and promotions.  The full results of the survey are summarized in the ASCO Impact Report, which provides an encompassing view of ASCO attendees’ intent to change treatment plans, their perceptions of clinical information presented, and their ratings of information offered by pharmaceutical and biotech companies.  For a full version the ASCO Impact Report, please visit

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