The challenges of oncology drug development

Paul Tunnah interviews Sally Collins

Boehringer Ingelheim

Every disease area has its own unique challenges with respect to development and commercialisation of medicines that can make a difference to the lives of patients. The oncology space, in particular, covers a multitude of disorders that are extremely diverse in their presentation, genetic differentiation and prognosis for the patient. However, the prevalence rates across almost all cancers are rising in line with an aging population, making oncology a key focus area for many pharmaceutical companies.

The notion of finding a “cure for cancer” may always be a distant dream, but great strides have been made in certain tumour types to ensure long term survival where the disease is caught early, reducing them to chronic managed conditions. But for late-stage, advanced tumours disease management remains much more about improving quality of life for the patient or extension of life by a few months, with new drugs showing small but incremental improvements in both aspects.

pharmaphorum spoke with Sally Collins, from Boehringer Ingelheim, to hear her inside perspective on the opportunities and challenges of working in the oncology space. During our discussion we touched on how cancer drug development differs from other areas, the complex interplay of diagnostics and personalised medicine, the impact pharma has made on the disease area as a whole and the market access obstacles that can be encountered with high priced specialists drugs that are scrutinised by prescribers and payers alike.

This interview is in two parts. Click on the play button below to watch the first part, with the second part exclusively available on our YouTube channel.

Please add your comments below (you must be registered).

Subscribe to pharmaphorum on YouTube to watch the second part of this interview and be the first to hear about new videos

About the interviewee:

Sally Collins is a Senior Brand Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim and has 4 years experience of working in oncology marketing. Sally joined Boehringer Ingelheim in 2009 and is responsible for developing the marketing for the future oncology portfolio when they launch. This portfolio comprises a number of products which are entering late stage development across 5 tumour types.

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 42,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

With front line research and development projects, Boehringer Ingelheim has embarked on a major drive to contribute to the emergence of new cancer drugs. We aim to bridge therapeutic gaps with innovative treatments to improve health and enhance the quality of life of cancer patients.

For more information please visit

How will cancer treatment advance in the next ten years?