After Paul Bagga was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer that was spreading to the brain, the nonsmoker was coming close to the end of life. But his life was saved by two things: an incredible marvel called a clinical trial—that in this case used a Pfizer drug called Lorbrena—and the Lazarex Foundation.
The recent Philadelphia Inquirer story by Marie McCullough hit the point home—clinical trials involving what can be near miraculous investigational drugs most often aren’t enough as sponsor cover the cost of the drug but not the extensive transportation, lodging and other costs associated with patient travel across the country for example. In the case of Mr. Bagga, he spent nearly 30,000 on trips to Boston to participate in the Lorbrena trial at Massachusetts General Hospital—a participating site.
Lazarex Cancer Foundation
In the case of Mr. Bagga, his life was likely saved not only by Lorbrena but by Lazerex Foundation. Founded by Dana Dornsife, she and her husband David who chairs Herrick Steel Corp. give to a number of causes including helping those that need financial support to participate in clinical trials.
Their organization has spent $16 million to help more than 4,000 cancer patients over the past 13 years. Their goal: help patients overcome the barriers to clinical trial participation. These costs include transportation, lodging, etc. The Lazarex website notes that “to permanently fix the clinical trial recruitment system by shifting the financial burden from the patient to the pharmaceutical companies who need patients in order to get new drugs to market.”
Ms. Dornsife became exposed to the challenges of participation for most working class to middle class people back in 2003 when she discovered that her brother-in-law has diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Ms. Dornsife uncovered a study that could potentially extend his prognosis from 3 month to 20 month. Ms. Dornsife soon thereafter started helping others and started to become keenly aware of the challenges most everyday folks have in coming up with the money to actually travel to a study site.
Few Participate in Clinical Trials
Because of a number of factors, including these financial obstacles, only 5% of cancer patients in America actually end up participating in a clinical trial—and most of those 5% are “affluent and white,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. A great deal of studies ended or terminated due to lack of participation.Source: Philadelphia Inquirer