IQVIA launches UK cancer database amid survival rate concern

As figures show the UK continues to lag behind other developed countries in cancer survival, a new project aims to create a national database with ambitious goals to challenge the variation in care standards in the NHS and encourage clinical trial research.

The not-for-profit organisation Health Data Research UK has announced a series of seven new data hubs to encourage research into new medicines.

There are “hubs” covering eye health, inflammatory bowel disease, acute care, clinical trials, respiratory diseases and real world data – but in the light of the new figures published in the Lancet the cancer hub is likely to have a high profile.

Based around a central database run by IQVIA, the cancer hub aims to use oncology data gathered from across the UK to improve patient care, diagnose the disease earlier, and enable people to access innovative new medicines through trials.

The idea is that if hospitals can pool their data, which has been fully anonymised to protect patients’ identity, they can start to tackle a range of issues that have long been holding back cancer care in the NHS.

Drawing on experience and technology from working with 150 hospitals across the EU, IQVIA said the initial focus will be on colorectal cancer and paediatric malignancies.

But Tim Sheppard, senior vice president and general manager for Northern Europe at IQVIA, said the project will move swiftly to other types of cancer after this initial bedding in phase.

Sheppard told pharmaphorum in an interview: “We hope institutions provide data for all of their patients not limited to certain types of cancer.”

By pooling data and working together on the project, hospitals could better understand the information they already hold and begin to work on issues such as variation in care by sharing best practice.

Designing clinical trials and recruiting patients to them is another challenge for pharma companies, or academic institutions, when they are conducting oncology research.

Chris Ball, director of major partnerships at IQVIA, said: “We can identify patients who could benefit from clinical trials and we can take away work from clinicians and accelerate and research.”

IQVIA’s team hopes that this national cancer database will encourage more oncology R&D in the UK, in line with the government’s decision to champion life sciences in its industrial strategy in 2017.

Sheppard said: “The overarching aim involving all four countries is to have an all-inclusive cancer database for the UK. This data set will be a global advantage to the UK in attracting the trials.”

Sheppard said that he had been “pleasantly surprised” by the response so far and IQVIA already has a list of 20 institutions from across the UK interested in taking part.

Figures published by The Lancet this week show that the UK is still lagging behind other comparable countries in terms of five-year survival rates for three common cancers – colon, oesophagus and lung.

In stomach cancer, the progress in the UK has been slow, meaning it is now bottom of the list of countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark based on figures gathered between 1995 and 2014.

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