I gotta say, it was a good week. We announced peer-reviewed data that provides a strong case for the value of our trials – and, if fact, a variety of studies coming out of the NCTN.

In a joint press release with the NCI, we shared results from a SWOG study showing that nearly half of our phase III trials made a major impact on cancer patients, either by influencing the guidelines that determine their care or by influencing new FDA cancer drug approvals.

What’s more: it costs the NCTN much less to get data needed for an FDA drug approval compared with a pharmaceutical trial. According to the research, it costs an estimated $123.6 million to run a SWOG trial that results in approval of a new cancer drug. That may seem like a lot. But, for industry, that cost was $1.73 billion. We’re quite the bargain.

The work, created by a team led by Dr. Joseph Unger, was just published in
JAMA Network Open. To arrive at the findings, SWOG examined 182 NCTN phase III trials enrolling 148,028 patients between 1980 and 2017.

What’s particularly noteworthy about the work is how it illustrates the influence of negative trials. Of the 82 practice-influential trials we identified, 35, or 43%, had negative findings, with nearly half of those 35 trials reaffirming standard of care. As you all know, negative trials tell us which new and potentially expensive drugs are not effective, as well as providing more data on which may be harmful.

For details, read the SWOG and NCI press release

NCI Acting Chief Dr. Doug Lowy – and even NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins – shared the news on Twitter. OK, that makes for a great week. Having evidence of our value, however, is its own reward. It is worth noting that Dr. Unger led
another peer-reviewed study , published in 2017, that found that people diagnosed with cancer gained more than 3.3 million years of life thanks to SWOG and other publicly-funded trials, at a cost of about $125 per life year saved.

Whether or not we needed proof of the value of federally-funded research, and our impact, we’ve got it.