BCAC develop action plan for better access to breast cancer clinical trials

BCAC committee members have developed an action plan to improve access to clinical trials in New Zealand following an advocates’ workshop in Sydney last week.

The workshop, for New Zealand and Australian breast cancer consumer advocates, provided reliable and up-to-date information about breast cancer trials research.

The workshop programme was run by the Australia New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG) and covered a number of topics including:
·    an overview of the purpose, design and ethics of clinical trials
·    interpreting statistics
·    planning advocacy work in local communities.

BCAC’s chair Libby Burgess and fellow committee members Emma Crowley and Nic Russell attended, along with Raewyn Calvert, the New Zealand representative on the ANZBCTG Consumer Advisory Panel and Dallas Honey, a former participant in a clinical trial.

They say the workshop was inspiring and motivating, but Libby says of particular relevance to New Zealand was Professor Fran Boyle’s session on clinical trials and how they impact the availability of drugs.

“Sadly, access to new and innovative cancer medicines is poor in New Zealand compared to many other developed countries. Clinical trials give patients the chance to be involved in research that can lead to improvements in survival outcomes and quality of life and we need to see New Zealanders having greater access to these opportunities,” Libby says.

Emma agrees and says the workshop gave the New Zealand contingent a chance to develop a strategy to address the issue.

“It was great to be able to talk and brainstorm with other advocates from across Australia and New Zealand and speak to leading medical professionals about how we can move forward in advocating for better access to clinical trials for New Zealanders.

“We’ve now developed a strategy to tackle “the access issue” and have come away with an action list which we will now begin work on,” she says.

BCAC believes access to trials would be vastly improved if borders were opened allowing women to travel to Australia or even to another New Zealand treatment centre in order to participate in a trial.

BCAC is now planning to work with Raewyn Calvert on the action plan and members of the committee will attend the next ANZBCTG Annual Scientific Meeting in Australia later this year.

31 May 2016

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