A partnership between the pharmaceutical industry and the National Health Service that built a new system to help tackle postcode prescribing of cancer medicines has received a top IT accolade.

Every year, the CIO Magazine 100 Awards honour 100 companies that demonstrate excellence and achievement in IT and, this year, the Pharmaceutical Oncology Initiative Partnership (POIP) - a joint venture between 12 member companies of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Cancer Action Team and the Cancer Services Collaborative Improvement Partnership – made the list.

The POIP developed an IT system, known as C-PORT (Chemotherapy Planning Oncology Resource Tool), to address the fact that the uptake of new cancer medicines varies wildly across the country. C-PORT is a “sophisticated modelling tool” that uses statistical methods to predict how chemotherapy units will perform in different conditions, and enables them to redesign how they deliver therapies as new medicines become available.

The tool, designed for the POIP by management consultancy A.T. Kearney and built by Concentra and ITransition, is currently being rolled out across the NHS to “overwhelming support” from those that will use it, according to the ABPI.

The success of the project also shows how the pharmaceutical industry can

collaborate effectively with the NHS for the benefit of patients. Such collaborations have an important role to play in helping to improve health delivery,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI.

Drive for improvement

The government has recently been working hard to fight the postcode lottery in cancer care and patchy access to the latest advances in therapy. Last September, a review by England’s National Cancer Director found that the uptake of NICE-approved cancer medicines had improved an average of 47% between July-December 2003 and January-June 2005, and that variations in usage between cancer networks had narrowed.

However, the ABPI published a manifesto last November that still painted a rather gloomy picture. It said the UK still lagged behind its European and global peers in prescribing new, innovative drugs, and that, even five years after their launch, major cancer drugs were still being prescribed at less than two-thirds the rate of other, comparable countries.

The POIP was set up in 2005 to work on projects that will benefit cancer

patients by improving uptake and access to cancer medicines. The 12 companies which have supported C-PORT are: Amgen, AstraZeneca, Lilly, Merck, Serono, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Ortho Biotech, Pfizer, Roche,

sanofi-aventis, Schering-Plough and Wyeth.