To us, the recently concluded “Philippine Cancer Summit" aka "Access to Innovative Medicine: Focus on Cancer” forum seemed like "one small step for mankind". We are not a member of the healthcare industry but participated in the event as consultant to event owner, Takeda Pharmaceuticals. This was the first time we saw various groups doing work on cancer in one stage. The topic revolved around the (good) things they were doing; and how they looked forward to partnering with each other in the future.
Most of panelists seemed to know of each other but this was the first time participants came together as a group to publicly discuss their work. Together with the panelists, the audience included physicians, cancer specialists, hospital administrators, pharmaceutical leaders, global executives from Takeda, patient advocates, health insurers and others.
The common goal is to save people's lives and give patients access to quality healthcare and innovative medicine.
One small story at a time.
Leilani "Lani" Eusebio, a former cancer patient and head of patient advocacy group, inspired the people in the room and made some teary-eyed.
She expressed relief and hope that cancer would no longer be a "death sentence" with the availability of high-tech or innovative drugs. While generally more effective than conventional treatment, innovative "targeted therapy" drugs are also more expensive.
The challenge ahead
Speakers from the pharmaceutical industry noted that there are programs to help qualified patients have "access to medicine" (ATM). These programs allow some subsidy to these expensive drugs. As such, know that these ATM or patient assistance programs exist. It takes a little bit of research and asking the right questions to your oncologists because these programs are just rolling out.
A bright future
One exciting development from the forum was that a group of over 100 hospitals (affiliated with a physician's group) was interested in participating in the Philippine Cancer Registry. According to IACR.com, cancer registries "collect information on the occurrence and outcome of cancer in defined population groups. For each new cancer case, registries record details of the individual affected, the nature of the individual affected, the nature of the cancer, information on treatment, and on follow-up specially with respect to survival from the disease. Registries play an important role in research into the cause of cancer, both by providing data on patterns and trends. "
In the end, cancer sucks. It's still not going to be easy but the future seems bright. For those who can afford it, people seek cancer treatment abroad where options are plentiful. For those in the Philippines, we do the best we can with what we have.
It is heartwarming to know that there is hope for the patients and that there are ongoing programs to help them. There is a lot of work to do, but amplifying the message of these early advocates can save lives.
The TechTalks.ph' mission in building communities.
One way that TechTalks.ph can help the cancer community is to publicize their efforts, and help connect like-minded groups online.
In the process, we hope to encourage collaboration and partnership for a meaningful cause.
For TechTalks.ph, we look forward to supporting more health-related tech initiatives in the future. We are planning a similar event in June 2017, Partner with us or Stay tuned!
Our team will relay updates from this cancer forum once the group formally announces new developments.
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Thank you to the following Philippines-based panelists who inspired us during the forum.
Gabriel Georgy | President and General Manager, Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.Dr. Sandra Torres | Medical Director, Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.
Dr. Sandra Torres | Medical Director, Takeda Healthcare Philippines Inc.
Dr. Claire Soliman | Past Vice President, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology
Lani Eusebio | Executive Director, ICanServe Foundation, Inc.