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Customer Focus Award

Winner

Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutation testing network in Advanced non-small cell lung Cancer (NSCLC)

AstraZeneca UK in association with Creative Lynx, iS Health and Munro & Forster


Summary of work

Winner: AstraZeneca UK in association with Creative Lynx, iS Health and Munro & Forster

Although over 32,000 people are diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) each year, until 2009 there was no UK national provision for EGFR gene testing. Approximately 70 per cent of patients with NSCLC, whose tumours are epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutation positive, respond to first line treatment with gefitinib (lressa). Although gefitinib is licensed for the treatment of NSCLC patients with the EGFR mutation, patients could only benefit from this therapy option if their positive mutation status had been confirmed through EGFR testing.

AstraZeneca UK recognised that the value of routine EGFR testing needed to be communicated to the wider healthcare professional community to ensure that it was embedded sustainably in the NHS to help improve patient outcomes.

Having identified the need for education among oncologists, chest physicians and other members of the multidisciplinary team – to gain their support for EGFR testing helping them to refer eligible patients for testing these customer needs – AstraZeneca UK collaborated with recognised experts in the field to deliver a customer-focused programme to establish a national EGFR genetic testing network in partnership with the NHS. 

The result was a national EGFR testing service, with 18 laboratories conducting tests by the end of December 2010. The programme heralded a sea change in the delivery of personalised medicine in lung cancer and a shift in healthcare professional behaviour was recorded, with 9 out of 10 oncologists testing for EGFR by December 2010, compared with 3 out of 10 oncologists in July 2009

Critically, the programme secured a long-term change in NHS practice by developing the infrastructure for EGFR testing. 

Judges comments

“For me this ticks all the boxes. It engaged a multi-disciplinary group and showed clear evidence of behaviourial change. It was very well executed and a really good example of a company doing the right thing. It’s a classic example of why the industry makes such a brilliant contribution to healthcare.”

Stakeholder comments

"This programme certainly supported healthcare professionals in the drive to improve the care of people with advanced NSCLC. It helped bring together all the different stakeholders involved in EGFR testing, particularly pathologists and laboratory scientists, to adopt best practice and therefore drive high-quality EGFR testing and, therefore, improve patient outcomes.”
Professor of Pulmonary Pathology, Aberdeen University Medical School and Consultant Pathologist, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

"This programme has been a win–win for healthcare professionals. It has provided pathologists and geneticists with the support and infrastructure to carry out testing and given oncologists the means to tailor treatment to the needs of their individual patients helping to improve outcomes. It has enabled the NHS to deliver improvements in the patient pathway and ensure the treatment that is prescribed is cost-effective and most likely to benefit the patient. This initiative has delivered a genuine sea change in the delivery of personalised medicine in lung cancer. In addition, this service has generated data on the epidemiology of EGFR gene mutations in the UK that will prove valuable for research and for driving further improvements in the treatment of patients with NSCLC.”
Lung Cancer National Clinical Lead

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