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Case study: Molecular diagnostics

Securing a solution for molecular diagnostics

Published: 13 Jan 2017

BIVDA incisive

Client: The British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA)

Agency: Incisive Health

Campaign: Molecular diagnositcs

Timescale: N/A

A quick look

BIVDA’s carefully targeted programme forged consensus about the need for change and developed constructive solutions. It cleverly linked the funding of molecular diagnostics with the government’s wider commitment to genomics, establishing the former as a key test of the latter.

The result was a compelling vision for change, supported by all the key stakeholders. Most importantly, the government acted to guarantee funding for tests, ensuring that no patient will be denied treatment on the basis of lack of funding for diagnostics.

Challenge

Molecular diagnostics have the potential to transform care by ensuring treatment is focused on those patients who will benefit most and by minimising exposure to side effects associated with ineffective treatment.

However, at present in England there are inequalities in the usage of tests, driven by uncertainties in the way they are commissioned. Despite a number of targeted cancer therapies being available on the NHS, there was no routine funding for many tests.

Despite repeated political promises to address the issue, efforts to establish a sustainable funding mechanism have stalled. This has been blamed on a range of challenges, including the financial crisis in specialised commissioning, resulting in a reluctance to make any spending commitments.

Solution

The British In Vitro Diagnostics Association (BIVDA) working with the communications agency Incisive Health wanted to capitalise on the heightened political interest in genomics, to secure a solution for molecular diagnostics.

Together we undertook horizon- scanning to identify opportunities to make the case for molecular diagnostics; brought together key stakeholders, including Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Pathologists, to identify areas of common cause; and developed a vision document on the future access and provision of molecular diagnostics in England.

The vision document was launched at a high-level round table discussion in Parliament, at which all attendees pledged their support for the vision.

To support this activity an advocacy programme was undertaken to secure support from key influencers, including parliamentarians, policymakers, officials and medical professionals, on the need for change.

Results

As part of this programme BIVDA secured a commitment from the Cancer Taskforce to consider ‘the need for [the] establishment of a national system for the molecular diagnosis of cancer, to ensure patients are receiving the treatment that they will benefit from’ and a recommendation that ‘NHS England should transform access to molecular diagnostics to guide treatment for cancer’.

As a direct result of correspondence on the Genomic Laboratory Service Re-design consultation, the tests that would be undertaken as part of the service were clarified, providing vital market intelligence for members.

BIVDA directly communicated with 122 key stakeholders and secured the attendance of 15 high profile stakeholders to attend the round table discussion, including the minister for life sciences, president of the Royal College of Pathologists and Department of Health officials.

The programme secured a further commitment from the Department of Health in terms of the inclusion of funding for molecular diagnostics in a package of early measures to begin implementation of the Cancer Taskforce recommendations, stating ‘around 20,000 additional people a year [will have] their cancers genetically tested to identify the most effective treatments’.

NHS England subsequently confirmed that six tests will be incorporated in the 2016/17 National Tariff, ensuring routine funding.

Client verdict

“Without diagnostics precision medicine is not possible. BIVDA has set out a compelling vision and worked collaboratively with all key stakeholders, forging a consensus which has meant that NHS England has had to act.” Dr Virginia Acha, executive director research, medical and innovation, ABPI

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