Approval of immunotherapy for advanced lung cancer by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) led to a significant increase in its use, but this did not eliminate disparities among users that were apparent prior to approval.
The FDA approval process typically takes around 7 years, but clinical trials, compassionate use, and other agreements mean that patients can sometimes access treatment prior to approval.
Researchers studied more than a quarter million patients diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer between 2007 and 2018.
Prior to the approval of checkpoint inhibitor therapies, Black patients were 22 percent and Hispanic patients 21 percent less likely than White patients to receive this new therapy. After FDA approval of the therapies, Black patients were 13 percent and Hispanic patients 15 percent less likely than Whites to get the therapy.
So, the gap narrowed among patients but was still significant. “FDA approval alone does not ensure the optimal administration of novel treatments in the US,” the researchers concluded.
- See “FDA approval did not quash socioeconomic immunotherapy access disparities” by Laura Cowen on the Medicine Matters website (July 1, 2022)
- See the full text of the scientific paper “Association Between Food and Drug Administration Approval and Disparities in Immunotherapy Use Among Patients With Cancer in the US” by Theresa Ermer et al.