The nationwide DRUP trial (Drug Rediscovery Protocol) investigates whether medicines that have already been approved for patients with specific tumor types can also be used as a treatment for other patients. These patients have metastatic cancer and a DNA profile that is common in other cancer types for which a targeted drug or immunotherapy already exists.
This unique trial was initiated at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and is led by principal investigator Emile Voest. 35 Dutch hospitals are currently participating in DRUP and other countries are following its lead. Since the trial’s start in 2016, more than 1,200 patients who no longer had any regular treatment options received one of 35 available drugs. Approximately 3 in 10 patients benefit from this treatment. This includes patients with rare cancer types, for whom much fewer drugs are developed and marketed.
"This is truly wonderful, innovative research," said medical director and jury president Jacqueline Stouthard. "The trial has a direct positive impact on the lives of a large group of patients with metastatic cancer, regardless of the location of their primary tumor. This is an innovative trial in various ways, from its study design to the innovative way the treatments are financed by having a pharmaceutical company and health insurance providers share the costs."
As of last summer, the drug nivolumab has been covered by basic health insurance for adult patients with tumors showing a rare anomaly (MSI) and for whom no other treatment is available. Research within the DRUP trial showed that more than 40 percent of these patients gain long-term benefits from this drug: the tumor shrinks, or in some cases even disappears. The coverage of the medicine was the result of a unique collaboration between oncologists, health insurance companies, a drug manufacturer, and the National Health Care Institute.