Dr Funmi Olopade Describes Advancements in BRCA Gene Testing – AJMC.com Managed Markets Network

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Funmi Olopade, MD, FACP, professor of medicine and human genetics and founding director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center, explains advancements in BRCA testing and how genetic testing has become standard of care.

Funmi Olopade, MD, FACP, professor of medicine and human genetics and founding director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center, explains advancements in BRCA testing and how genetic testing has become standard of care.
Transcript
Are there improvements in the reimbursement landscape for testing to determine who is at risk for breast and ovarian cancer? Are both women and men able to get the right tests for the breast cancer gene BRCA?
Yes, and that's also one of the things that I'm most proud of. In 1996, we told the oncology community that BRCA1 is going to be a big deal and that, until we protect patient privacy and we also prevent genetic discrimination, no one will participate in research. And guess what? Advocates lobbied to get HIPAA laws passed, the federal government mandated that genetic testing or GINA [Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act] that they should not discriminate against people who are employed by the federal government, much like the COVID mandate is allowing businesses to now say, “oh, this is okay, we can mandate.”* America is the greatest country in the world, and we cannot leave any of our citizens behind. That's why we work with multiple stakeholders. The first insurance company to look at why it makes sense to do genetic testing was the technology assessment group at BlueCross BlueShield. That's why, if the science moves us to this area, then why would you not cover it?
Illinois Department of Public Health was one of the first to cover genetic testing for women on Medicaid. It is now standard of care for anyone who has insurance. [National Comprehensive Cancer Network] NCCN has developed guidelines because women participated in research, and then they allowed us to be able to move it. I'm going to tell the audience that, because the oncology community embraced genetic testing, we're at a point now where it is now standard of care where people—men and women—are getting tested to be able to get [poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase] PARP inhibitors. The ovarian cancer PARP inhibitor has become a game changer, and women are taking these oral pills to extend their lives. The first study to show that PARP inhibitors actually extend lifespan is a game changer for triple negative breast cancer was presented at [American Society of Clinical Oncology] ASCO …That is victory for the work that we have been able to do in collaboration with patient advocates. So the next frontier is not to stay in treatment, [but] to now go and find every mutation carrier before they ever get cancer.

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