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Working Together to Improve Outcomes: Applying Lessons from Oncology Collaborations to the COVID-19 Pandemic

When it comes to treating serious diseases or answering complex scientific questions, no single stakeholder can do it alone. From integrated care teams working closely with patients and family members, to strategic relationships between clinical trial sponsors and data partners, collaboration has always been critical to achieve positive outcomes in healthcare. 

The need for collaboration is particularly true in cancer research. The complex and quickly evolving treatment landscape, coupled with the applications of emerging data sources to support evidence generation including real-world data (RWD), create an optimal setting for collaboration to serve as a catalyst for innovation.

The partnerships formed by Friends of Cancer Research (Friends) are an excellent example of how stakeholders from across the RWD industry can work together to advance scientific research. In 2018, COTA joined nine other data partners, the FDA, and the National Cancer Institute in the Pilot 2.0 project, an initiative designed to leverage real-world endpoints to answer important clinical questions in advanced non-small cell lung cancer while establishing best practices for the use of RWD. This collaboration, building on the first Friends’ pilot project, has helped to push the RWD industry towards standardization, while enhancing the visibility and value of real-world evidence (RWE) to provide valuable insights in oncology. 

The collaboration model and project framework formulated by Friends in oncology enabled rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, applying the same cooperative energy to generate real-time insights during the pandemic. Starting in May of 2020, COTA partnered with Friends, the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, and other data partners in the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator. The Accelerator served as a critical hub for industry stakeholders to share learnings during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, with a central focus on the utility of RWD to generate real-time insights. Results from the first parallel analysis investigating the real-world use of hydroxychloroquine were recently published.

As in the Friends oncology collaboration, the Accelerator creates a forum for discussing important definitions and methodological considerations, sharing best practices, and collaboratively working through problems that are often too complex to tackle individually.

COTA’s work with Friends, the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator, and other partners across the healthcare industry is a core part of our mission to optimize the use of RWD to answer critical scientific and clinical questions. By working side-by-side with our peers, we are achieving more together than anyone one stakeholder could individually. Whether we’re applying our RWD expertise to cancer or COVID-19, we’re proud to be leading the way to collaborative insights that can make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.