CancerCare: Successfully partnering with industry

By: Patricia J. Goldsmith

For 72 years CancerCare has been dedicated to offering “help and hope” to those affected by cancer. We are a pan-tumor organization that serves patients, family members and caregivers. We are often the first point of support for patients after their diagnosis. Last year, through a variety of free programs, we served over 170,000 individuals, living in all 50 states and in 92% of the counties across the country.

Partnering for Success
At CancerCare, we take great pride in the partnerships we form for the benefit our clients and this includes partnerships with the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. We are blessed with “true and positive” partnerships with industry, including financial assistance programs to education seminars to bereavement camps for those that have lost loved ones to cancer. In all of these, endeavors, we find that CancerCare’s industry partners are sincerely interested in doing what is best for patients and their families and trust in CancerCare for program development and execution.

We nurture our strong industry partnerships through frequent contact. With many of our partners we have quarterly update meetings to share news with each other on all of our programs. That also includes hearing from the company on things like PDUFA dates and new clinical trials. It’s important for us to know what options and advances are available to the patients we serve.

Some of the programs at CancerCare of which I am most proud are our financial assistance programs. Through two different programs we offer over $20 million in support for patients each year. Some of this is in direct assistance for items such as transportation, child care or medical supplies; the second program helps defray or eliminate prescription drug copay costs. Our industry partners help fund the majority of those programs and frankly without them, we wouldn’t be able to serve nearly as many patients and families in need.

Many companies in healthcare, and indeed the pharmaceutical industry itself, offer their own patient assistance programs. Often when their own programs cannot meet the patient’s need they refer them to us. And likewise, if we know there is a company program that would benefit patients, we don’t hesitate to recommend it to a patient. Mutual respect goes a long way.

Looking to the Future
At CancerCare we believe the future challenges for cancer patients and their families and caregivers will revolve around access. We take a broad interpretation to what access means and look at it to include access to medications, access to affordable medical care and access to affordable support services. We also believe that industry will have a partnership role to play in meeting these challenges for patients – both from a financial perspective, but also more importantly through how they understand patient needs and incorporate those needs across company functions.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a large pharmaceutical company to 250 members of their R&D team. They wanted to hear the cancer patient perspective. I shared with them my thoughts around access. Why access? I want scientists across the world thinking about access issues for patients when they are researching molecules and creating a clinical trial program for what may become the next big oncology breakthrough. There might be decisions made early in in the development of drugs and clinical trial protocols that may avoid certain access challenges as trials begin recruitment or after drugs are approved.

About the Author:

Patricia J. Goldsmith

Patricia J. Goldsmith is the chief executive officer of CancerCare, based in New York City.  She may be reached at or +1 800 813 HOPE (4673).

CancerCare can be found online via their website, Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or their blog.

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