Importance of Clinical Trial Enrollment for CLL


Susan M. O’Brien, MD, on why clinical trial enrollment is so important for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Susan M. O’Brien, MD: If you ask me, clinicians should always enroll their patients on a clinical trial if they have that option because that’s the only way we advance the science. Nothing gets FDA approved without having gone through multiple clinical trials, often phase 1, phase 2, and then the randomized phase 3 trials that will lead to the approval. It’s important to put patients on trials. Don’t forget, it allows the patients access to what can be very exciting drugs long before they would otherwise have access to that. For example, if we take the patients who are going on the noncovalent BTK inhibitor trials, those patients are getting access to those drugs, in some cases, 1 or 2 years before those drugs would be commercially available. We’ve already seen preliminary data that those drugs are quite exciting and that they’re producing high response rates. It can be a great benefit to a patient to participate in a clinical trial. The clinical trials we are really looking to put patients on are, of course, the ones where the patient has become resistant to most of the commercially available drugs we have. The important trials are for that specific patient population, and they include the CAR T[-cell] trials and the bispecific trials. Those are probably the 2 biggest categories of trials right now for patients who are failing small molecule therapy.

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