ALBANY, NY – MAY 19, 2023 – Every year on May 20, patients and providers celebrate the invaluable work of clinical trials in the effort to eradicate all suffering and death from cancer. In observance of Clinical Trials Day on the 20th, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) joins cancer survivors and caregivers as well as key public health, patient and provider groups from across New York in calling on state lawmakers to support legislation that can improve access to clinical trials. Senate Bill 1196 / Assembly Bill 1673 seek to eliminate barriers to biomarker testing, which is increasingly critical to the participation in and development of clinical trials.
Clinical trials are critical to medical innovation, advancing potential new cancer treatments from the research setting to the cancer care clinic. Increasingly, cancer clinical trials are driven by biomarker testing and the development of targeted therapies. Patients’ biomarker testing results help to identify whether they might be eligible for a clinical trial to study new treatments or an existing targeted therapy—that has already been evaluated through clinical trials.
Patient participation in clinical trials is crucial to their success, and, right now in New York, many cancer patients face barriers to participating in clinical trials. One such barrier to participating in clinical trials is a lack of access to comprehensive biomarker testing.
“If clinical trials are the engine driving cancer research, then biomarker testing is the fuel that powers the engine,” said Dr. Balazs Halmos, MD, MS, Associate Director of Clinical Sciences at Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. “Biomarker testing is a vital, active ingredient in cancer research and data reflect this with the percentage of cancer clinical trials that involve biomarkers growing from 15% in 2000 to 55% in 2018.”
Senate Bill 1196 / Assembly Bill 1673 would require all state-regulated health plans, including Medicaid, to cover comprehensive biomarker testing in cases where patients can benefit thereby increasing many New Yorkers’ access to clinical trials as well as other personalized treatment options.
Giovanna Whitting was 15 years old when she learned that her cancer, which had been discovered in her thyroid 7 years prior, had spread to her lungs. Upon receiving news of her metastasis, Giovanna underwent biomarker testing, which indicated that she was eligible for a clinical trial. “The clinical trial itself was easy. Two pills in the morning and two at night. After just one day on the medication, something was different. My persistent, whole-body cough was gone. I could breathe. It felt like a miracle. Without biomarker testing, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in the clinical trial that saved my life. Every New Yorker who can benefit from biomarker testing should have access to it,” said Giovanna.
Senior Government Relations Director for ACS CAN in New York Michael Davoli said, “This Clinical Trials Day, ACS CAN and cancer patients across New York urge state lawmakers to take action to enable more New Yorkers to participate in clinical trials and cement cutting-edge medicine as a statewide priority. We have the opportunity to facilitate immense strides in medical innovation and save lives by improving access to biomarker testing. We hope the Senate will schedule Senate Bill 1196 / Assembly Bill 1673 for a vote before the Legislature breaks for summer.”
To learn more about precision medicine, biomarker testing and the effort in New York to expand access, please visit fightcancer.org/biomarkers.
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it.