The year began with a new strategy for personalised medicine in Norway, marking a flying start for CONNECT. The consortium has hosted a series of educational seminars and made an animation explainer.
A national PM strategy
In January, the Norwegian government introduced the revised national strategy for personalised medicine (PM). This strategy aims to integrate PM as a standard aspect of patient treatment in Norwegian hospitals, aligning with CONNECT's primary objective. The strategy spans until 2030. At the launch, Ingvild Kjerkol, the Minister of Health and Care Services, emphasised the vital role of the health industry in implementing the strategy. She highlighted the developed models for public-private collaboration in personalised medicine, health data, and clinical studies.
CONNECT organised educational seminars throughout the year, covering various topics. One such seminar focused on clinical trials. Titled "Industry-sponsored investigator-initiated studies – what does the protocol need to include to secure a good publication," the seminar took place in February and is available for viewing on the CONNECT webpage.
Additionally, CONNECT hosted a seminar in April, presenting two EU-funded initiatives in precision cancer medicine, called PCM4EU and PRIME-ROSE, in which Norway participates / coordinates. Interested in Personalised Cancer Medicine for all EU citizens? Read about the seminar in this article. Or view the entire seminar here:
In April, CONNECT initiated a new health data project, named INSPIRE-bio. This project aims to address challenges related to registering, curating, and utilising structured genomic and biomarker data. A dedicated task force comprising health data experts from public and private CONNECT partners will collaborate to shape the project’s scope. At the end of the year, CONNECT hired a project manager for INSPIRE-bio, promising more developments in the project in 2024.
Find more information about INSPIRE-bio in this post on the CONNECT LinkedIn-page.
Precision medicine for the public
CONNECT is dedicated not only to educating its partners but also to enlightening the wider public and politicians about precision medicine. In government documents and strategies, PM is referred to as Personalised Medicine. During Arendalsuka, Norway’s largest annual political festival held in mid-August, CONNECT launched the explainer video "What is personalised medicine?"
IMPRESS-Norway with new drugs
The clinical study IMPRESS-Norway made strides in 2023. Patients with molecular alterations indicating targeted treatment efficacy could participate through IMPRESS-Norway if the drug is part of the portfolio. The study tests approved drugs for new indications, referred to as off-label treatment or drug repurposing, based on the patient's molecular profile rather than the cancer's location.
IMPRESS-Norway aimed to offer targeted treatment to more Norwegian cancer patients in 2023, as it included two new drugs from CONNECT partner GSK in the study, providing treatment opportunities for 48 patients.
Professor Åslaug Helland, the study leader, also received the prestigious Kong Olav Vs cancer research prize this year.
On the same note, Professor Kjetil Taskén, Head of the Institute for Cancer Research at Oslo University Hospital, received the Innovation Prize from the University of Oslo for his work for a national network for precision cancer diagnostics in Norway, now known as InPreD.
Explore more study news on the IMPRESS website (in Norwegian).
A new pilot – to be continued
In Norway, reimbursement of new cancer drugs is based on information about clinical relative effect, resource use (cost-effectiveness), and severity. Documentation used for these analyses is collected from clinical trials, literature, guidelines, and data from registries and surveys. In addition, experts are used to supplement clinical information that is lacking in the documentation.
During the last years, submissions to the European Medicines Agency and local HTA agents are more frequently based on evidence from phase I/II studies that are typically single-arm trials. This is causing challenges for European decision-makers in terms of estimating the relative effect of a new cancer drug, which is a key input in cost-effectiveness analysis.
To address this challenge, it has been suggested to use register data, external controls (information from other trials as an indirect comparison), and expert elicitation. In a new pilot, CONNECT has explored the latter, using an existing framework for expert elicitation in the context of cost-effectiveness analysis where the collection of information from experts follows a structured and transparent method. The results from this pilot will be published next year!
If you are curious about expert elicitation as a method, we encourage you to watch this recording from a seminar organized by CONNECT in 2022 (link to YouTube).