Ensuring Access and Availability to High Quality Treatment and Care

  • OCRA believes that all women deserve the best quality treatment and care available, and supports policies that allow all women to access standard of care treatment.
  • OCRA believes that patients should be able to receive the best possible care without experiencing financial hardship.
  • OCRA supports efforts to increase the availability of ovarian cancer clinical trials and supports efforts to increase patient participation rates.
  • OCRA supports legislation to allow patients access to all FDA-approved cancer treatment regimens, regardless of the delivery method, by ensuring patients don’t face dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs because of how medicine is classified.

OCRA works with a variety of stakeholders, including health care practitioner societies, patients and federal partners, to ensure that all women receive standard of care treatment for ovarian cancer. We support policies that ensure all women with ovarian cancer: have access to a gynecologic oncologist for surgery; receive standard of care chemotherapy regimens and targeted therapies outlined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN); and that all women are offered the chance to participate in clinical trials.

Unfortunately, research shows that almost 2 out of 3 women do not receive standard of care treatment. Typically, women treated at large, high-volume hospitals receive standard of care, whereas those treated at low-volume hospitals often do not. Additional research has shown that women from low-income or minority backgrounds typically have poorer survival rates.

Over the past several years, access to health insurance coverage has improved. While this is an important development, we believe these plans must provide adequate coverage for women with ovarian cancer and those at high risk of developing the disease. Specifically, these plans should include access to preventative services, diagnostic tests, the best possible drug therapies, clinical trials, and palliative care. Insurance networks should include access to gynecologic oncologists, as research clearly shows improved outcomes for women treated by these specialists.

Ovarian cancer is an expensive disease to treat, with estimated costs ranging up to $200,000 for care in the first year post-diagnosis. In order to limit patient out-of-pocket expenditures, OCRA closely monitors the benefits design of health insurance plans and promotes policies that seek to protect patients from financial hardships.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are essential to the discovery of new and better therapies in the fight against ovarian cancer. In addition to advancing science by participating in a clinical trial, patients may also have the chance to receive the latest and most innovative investigational medicines to fight their cancer. Unfortunately, clinical trial participation rates are extremely low (around 3%) and recently, we have seen a decline in the availability of gynecologic clinical trials.

A recent report found that since 2011, we have seen a 90% decline in patient enrollment in phase III gynecologic clinical trials sponsored by NCI. Several factors likely contributed to this decline including uncertainty over year-to-year federal funding, increasingly narrowing eligibility restrictions, and geographic and financial constraints.

OCRA is working to address this decline. We have been working with Members of Congress, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and other organizations and stakeholders to develop concrete steps to broaden the availability of clinical trials and encourage robust participation.