Taking a Stand: How ASCO Develops Policy Guidance and Position Statements

Jan 07, 2019

As a global thought leader in the spheres of cancer care and research, ASCO recognizes the importance of taking a position on certain key issues affecting its members and the patients they serve. As a result, ASCO will, on occasion, release policy guidance and position statements when existing legislation or administrative practices have the potential to jeopardize access to high-quality cancer care and the important clinical research underpinning that care.

ASCO develops formal policy guidance that describes and endorses a defined course of action around a current or future cancer topic in a manner that reflects the Society’s values, goals, and priorities. Policy guidance helps to shape ASCO’s response and position on a variety of cancer issues. It is motivated by the challenges and needs of our diverse membership and it is informed by their expertise. Policy recommendations may be directed at Congress, government agencies, payers, certifying bodies, or other stakeholders in the health policy environment.

Because of our strong and unwavering commitment to ASCO’s core values—Evidence, Care, and Impact—it is never enough simply to point out problems. Reporting on a problem is just the beginning. Even more important is gathering evidence and conducting analysis that lead to both insight and possible solutions. Also critical is our work with relevant stakeholders to advance resulting policy recommendations that will have a positive impact on cancer care and on our patients.

An example of ASCO’s policy work is the recent statement on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Several ASCO State Affiliates shared experiences with certain PBM practices and their potential for adverse impact on quality of care. Serious concerns were raised by our members, our State Affiliate Council, our Clinical Practice Committee, and other ASCO leaders. In response to recommendations by the State Affiliate Council, ASCO’s Board of Directors placed PBM issues high on the list of priorities for action. Once this need was established, ASCO staff and committee members analyzed the issue, gathered available evidence, and identified potential remedies. The result was the “ASCO Position Statement on Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Their Impact on Cancer Care.” The statement’s recommendations formed the basis for advocacy, and PBM issues were one of the three main topics presented to members of Congress and their staffs at ASCO’s recent Advocacy Summit.

ASCO is committed to preserving and enhancing access to high-quality cancer care for all Americans. The statement on PBMs is just one of many whereby ASCO’s voice—and the collective voice of its members—is helping to shape the future of the cancer care delivery system.

Read the PBM statement.

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