ISOPP/MASCC Joint Session on Biosimilars at The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) Annual meeting in San Francisco, USA

By Toh Yi Long, National University of Singapore

The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) held its annual meeting at San Francisco this year. The conference covers a wide spectrum of problems experienced by cancer patients that may be related to their cancer and/or treatment, which is well-attended by multiple disciplines ranging from medical oncologists to pharmacists. 

A new addition to this year is the organisation of shorter workshops embedded within the main meeting, which have already been included in the registration fee. There was also a debate session organised that was lively, as speakers argued for the notion that every cancer survivor must have a written survivorship care plan, with quick-witted comments, analogies and quotable banter.

This year’s meeting themes touched upon digital health, treatment toxicities, sexual health and cancer survivorship amongst others. The theme on digital health was one of the highlights and is fitting given the geographical proximity to the Silicon Valley. In this plenary session, talks were given to address applications of digital health in the field of oncology: there were overviews of how artificial intelligence can be used in predictive models, use of virtual/augmented reality and wearable devices to help meet the challenges cancer patients face. The increasing adoption of digital interventions further underlies the enabling role of technology. In fact, besides leveraging on innovative technologies to help optimize symptom management and toxicity assessment, we have already experienced such applications in context of pharmacy such as use of electronic prescription refills/calculation of drug doses and machines for automation of workflow in drug picking/dispensing.

ISOPP also held a joint session on biosimilars at this year’s MASCC conference. An overview of biosimilars was outlined: how the evidence-based approach in determining biosimilarity focuses more on an analytical angle to establish similarity between the biosimilar and reference product, rather than using comparative trials. Concerns over duration of patents and immunogenicity were also raised.  There were speakers who represented ISOPP: Ms Emma Foreman shared her knowledge about the use of biosimilars (epoetin, filgrastim and infliximab) in cancer supportive care while Ms Harbans Dhillon gave her opinion about the current guidelines on the use of biosimilars (from WHO, EMA and FDA). Both talks were found to be informative and useful by the audience.
Overall, much like the Golden Gate Bridge – an iconic architecture of San Francisco, this conference has helped to bridge participants to updated content and knowledge in cancer supportive care and a network of domain experts. 


The 2019 MASCC Meeting in San Francisco, California
Ms.Emma Foreman from UK speaking about Biosimilars in Supportive Care
Ms Harbans Dhillon from Malaysia speaking about Current Guidelines on the Use of Biosimilars