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Flatiron Health Partners With FDA on Cancer Research

May 25, 2016
by David Raths
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Initiative will focus on how real-world evidence can provide new insights into the care of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer

To complement the work of clinical trials, Flatiron Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have signed a research collaboration agreement to determine how real-world treatment patterns derived from de-identified patient data captured outside of clinical trials can provide new insights into the safety and effectiveness of emerging anti-cancer therapies such as immunotherapeutic agents.

Flatiron Health and the FDA will use a project to investigate the use of immunotherapies in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (aNSCLC) to explore analytic approaches, clinically relevant endpoints and safety assessment methods using real-world evidence.

“With only 4 percent of the adult U.S. cancer population enrolled in clinical trials, we as providers are currently limited to making clinical decisions based upon study results that represent only a small number of patients. This makes it nearly impossible to estimate whether a treatment will work, anticipate all of the potential side effects of therapies or even decide which treatment should precede another,” said Amy Abernethy, chief medical officer and senior vice president, oncology, Flatiron Health, in a prepared statement. “Collaborative projects such as this one with the FDA allow us to access real-world evidence for more accurate and actionable insights into patient care and expected outcomes outside of clinical trials, supporting the delivery of high-quality patient care.”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, with more than 220,000 new cases and approximately 160,000 deaths in 2015. In recent years, immunotherapy — a novel class of therapies that leverage the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer — has emerged as a promising approach in the treatment of aNSCLC. Under the collaboration, Flatiron Health and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) within the FDA will systematically explore the characteristics and treatment patterns of patients with aNSCLC who are receiving immunotherapy to better understand real-world treatment patterns and formulate further regulatory science hypotheses.

Founded in 2012 by two former Google employees, New York-based Flatiron Health was the focus of a recent Healthcare Informatics Up and Comer feature article. The company has grown to approximately 280 employees and works with 200 cancer centers. Backed by Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Roche and others, the company’s OncologyCloud platform includes an EHR for oncology, analytics, patient portal and integrated billing management.