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Leader Perspectives

Addressing Difficult-To-Treat Cancers Through A Patient-Centric Lens

Kelvin Tan, MB BCh, MRCPCH, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

In the U.S., approximately 13 percent of lung cancers are small cell and nearly 30,000 new cases of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) are recorded in the U.S. every year.1 Despite the prevalence of this disease, SCLC is difficult to treat and is often diagnosed at extensive-stage disease – when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. About 2 in 3 people with SCLC have progressed to extensive-stage disease when the cancer is first found.2

As we advance our work and capabilities in oncology, Jazz continues to focus on people for whom we can have the greatest impact – like those living with SCLC – and aspires to develop novel therapies that have the potential to enable them to live longer, healthier lives.

With the oncology community preparing for the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, we’re energized by the opportunity to collaborate on the advancement of therapies for patients with difficult-to-treat forms of cancer, like SCLC, but are also reminded about the importance of maintaining a strong focus on patient centricity in other facets of their journey.

Jazz continuously explores new approaches to incorporate the patient voice into our work and, going beyond the development of therapeutic solutions, we champion and advocate for patients, caregivers and their families. By actively collaborating with advocacy organizations, we have been able to establish disease education programs that put the needs of patients and caregivers at the center to support their journeys in more ways than one.

A Comprehensive Approach to SCLC Care

As the child of immigrant parents, I have seen first-hand the obstacles ethnically diverse communities can face in receiving quality healthcare, whether as a result of language barriers, hindered access to information, or cultural differences impeding access to care. Through my experience as a practicing physician, I’ve observed the impacts of social determinants of health on patient outcomes, oftentimes as a result of circumstances beyond an individual’s control. Having this experience is what inspires me to address the large unmet needs of underserved cancer communities – not only through advancing science – but also by supporting patients and caregivers throughout their journeys. Receiving an SCLC diagnosis can be overwhelming and scary, and at Jazz, it’s a priority for us to support them in navigating their journey – from diagnosis, all the way through treatment, and beyond.

We do this through collaboration. Partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy partners, healthcare providers, and other members of a patient’s care team provide the opportunity to address both the medical and emotional needs of patients, ensure their voices are at the forefront of change, and make a meaningful difference in their lives. Equipping patients and caregivers with the information and resources they need to manage their SCLC at each stage enables them to become advocates in their own healthcare journeys.

Working together with CancerCare, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, Lung Cancer Foundation of America and LUNGevity Foundation, Jazz launched the Nothing Small About It (NSAI) program to do just this – provide digital resources dedicated solely to SCLC patients and their care teams. With NSAI, we are consistently listening to patient stories and experiences so we can help address their needs, overcome barriers to care, and meet them where they are.

Our commitment to the patient experience is also reflected in our work with our partner, Stand Up To Cancer, where we have supported ethnographic research to help drive improvements in the treatment of small cell lung cancer in underserved communities. Through this collaboration, we are working to better understand the attitudes and perspectives of healthcare providers, patients and their families when it comes to their experiences with SCLC clinical trials so we can help increase access to cancer trials – and their potentially lifesaving therapies – for communities that have been historically underrepresented.

A Focus on the Patient

In addition to collaborating with healthcare industry partners and providing tailored resources to patients to address their needs, maintaining a patient-centered focus in our day-to-day work is equally critical. Part of my role at Jazz is to make sure the patient voice is accounted for in our R&D process, from discovery and pre-clinical development through agency review and approval to the real-world setting. Our team works closely with patients, as well as partnering with Global Patient Advocacy and Patient Support Services teams, to listen to patients and ensure we’re meeting their needs.

The benefits of amplifying the patient voice and real-world experience as part of the R&D process are vast. Weaving in the patient point of view can help improve patient recruitment; result in a more diverse populations included in our studies; lead to an overall reduction in the burden of study conduct; and moreover, increase the potential of bringing truly meaningful medicines to patients and their families.

Jazz’s Commitment to the Cancer Community

Jazz is driven by the patient perspective – speaking with patients throughout the R&D process, hearing about their unmet needs, and turning their insights into actions is what inspires our work every day. Large medical meetings like ASCO are an important opportunity for us to hear from and engage with patients, their families and advocacy groups to ensure that we are not only listening to members of the oncology community, but turning these insights into actionable next steps as we continue to build upon our commitment of patient centricity at Jazz.
As we build momentum in oncology, we promise to keep our focus on the people for whom we can have the greatest impact. I look forward to advancing our work to integrate the patient perspective throughout our drug development process, and to continue to listen to patients, physicians, care teams and advocacy groups so we can enhance our research with a goal to further improve treatment outcomes.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2020. Accessed May 22, 2020.
  2. American Cancer Society. Small cell lung cancer stages. Updated October 1, 2019. Accessed March 11, 2021.