Development of a systematic approach to pharmaceutical industry's patient assistance programs on accessing unfunded cancer drugs

J Oncol Pharm Pract. 2018 Jan;24(1):18-21. doi: 10.1177/1078155216677854. Epub 2016 Nov 11.


Background New oncology drugs usually become commercially available several months before the funding decisions are made by provincial public payers. Increasingly, patient assistance programs are being set up by pharmaceutical companies in order to facilitate access of their new cancer drugs before public funding decisions are finalized. We discovered that there is a need to keep this information up to date and available in a central repository, thus we have created a centralized patient assistance chart for use by all who require information on accessing unfunded drugs in our province. Methodology The project was carried out at a publicly funded provincial cancer care organization that oversees parenteral and oral chemotherapy treatments across our province. The drug information pharmacist at this organization developed a method of scoping information on upcoming therapies by reviewing a series of recommendations made by various organizations that review oncology treatments. A standard process was developed for including information on the patient assistance chart that is available on the organizations website. Results As of May 2016, the repository contains information on 47 patient assistance programs involving 24 unfunded antineoplastic drugs for various indications. This compared to (7) when it was maintained by a single centre in 2004 and 10 when the process was first centralized in 2009. Conclusion The benefit of patient assistance program availability allows patients to access medications when provincial funding is not available. A standardized approach and methodology to evaluating information was established by our drug information pharmacist; thus allowing for a consistent approach to dissemination of information on assessing unfunded cancer drugs in our province.

Keywords: Patient assistance programs; access to unfunded cancer drugs; systematic approach.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Drug Industry*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans


  • Antineoplastic Agents