Kingston Health Sciences Centre Expands Lung Diagnostic Assessment Program to Napanee, ON

Press Release

KIRKLAND, QC, Nov. 26, 2021  – Merck Canada is proud to announce that the Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), first place winner of the Lung Cancer Innovation Challenge, has launched a Lung Diagnostic Assessment Program (LDAP) at the Lennox & Addington County General Hospital (LACGH) in Napanee, Ontario. The new outreach clinic, led by Dr. Genevieve Digby, respirologist and Clinical Lead for the Diagnostic Assessment Programs at KHSC and Dr. Christopher Parker, respirologist and LDAP physician, will provide patients with suspected lung cancer in Napanee and the surrounding region with better access to specialized care.

Earlier this year, Merck Canada’s Lung Cancer Innovation Challenge in partnership with MaRS called on Ontario-based innovators to identify, implement and scale solutions that could help enhance the lung cancer patient journey. The challenge sought to find solutions to reduce the length of time between diagnosis and treatment, and enable improved health outcomes, especially for priority patient groups, such as rural and lower socioeconomic populations. KHSC won first-place in the competition with their idea to launch a rapid assessment clinic for patients with suspected lung cancer in the LACGH.

“Our congratulations go out to Dr. Digby, Dr. Parker and everyone involved in bringing the LDAP clinic to Napanee,” said Marwan Akar, President and Managing Director, Merck Canada. “It’s very exciting to see this next stage of their idea in the field, and how they will be delivering a solution that can help patients receive optimal care as quickly as possible. At Merck Canada, our vision has always been to make a difference in patients’ lives through cutting-edge research and innovation, and we’re excited to continue to support Ontario-based innovators to ensure that patients everywhere have access to quality care that could help improve their health outcomes.”

Rural populations across Ontario face higher rates of late-stage lung cancer incidence and mortality.1 Symptoms of lung cancer tend to appear after the disease has progressed, with approximately 50 per cent of all lung cancer patients diagnosed with stage IV disease.2 Late-stage diagnosis can make lung cancer more difficult to treat, resulting in poor prognosis and one of the lowest survival rates of all types of cancer.3 Through the new outreach clinic, patients referred to the program will have the opportunity to have their initial consultation with the LDAP clinic at the community hospital, at which initial lung cancer diagnostics and investigations will be coordinated, as well as subsequent referral appointments with the multidisciplinary team specializing in lung cancer at KHSC including: respirologists, thoracic surgeons, and oncologists.

“A big challenge faced by patients in rural Ontario is access to care, and we’re proud to be part of the solution by expanding the LDAP clinic, made possible through the prize funds we won from the challenge,” said Dr. Genevieve Digby. “Our hope is to reduce wait times, travel and expenses for patients, while increasing family and caregiver presence at appointments. Ultimately, we want to reduce the barriers patients face and make it easier for patients to receive the specialty cancer care they need, right in their own community.”

“MaRS congratulates KHSC on the successful launch of the outreach clinic,” said Alex Ryan, Senior Vice President at MaRS Discovery District. “This demonstrates the power of innovation challenges to unearth solutions that already exist in Ontario and build new partnerships between innovators and adopters.”

The new clinic will build from the original LDAP clinic at KHSC, which reduced the time from initial lung cancer diagnosis to first oncology consultation by 10 days and decreased time to first treatment by 25 days through implementation of a multidisciplinary clinic. The clinical team will also work together with key stakeholders in the local Indigenous communities to provide a holistic and culturally sensitive model of care.  By offering a more easily accessible location for patients in this region, the clinic aims to significantly reduce geographic and socioeconomic barriers to specialty cancer care, and provides an easier, more sustainable way for patients to access the care they need.

Merck’s Focus on Cancer
Our goal is to translate progressive science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck, helping people fight cancer is our passion and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. Our focus is on pursuing research in immuno-oncology and we are accelerating every step in the journey — from lab to clinic — to potentially bring new hope to people with cancer.

About Merck
For more than 130 years, Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information about our operations in Canada, visit www.merck.ca and connect with us on YouTube and Twitter.

1 Jenkins WD, Matthews AK, Bailey A, et al. Rural areas are disproportionately impacted by smoking and lung cancer. Preventive medicine reports 2018. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5984228/. Accessed on November 4, 2021

2 Government of Canada. Lung Cancer in Canada. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/lung-cancer.html. Accessed on November 4, 2021.

3 Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Cancer Statistics: A 2020 special report on lung cancer. Available at: https://cc-arcc.ca/canadian-cancer-statistics-a-2020-special-report-on-lung-cancer/. Accessed on November 9, 2021.

For further information: Media Contacts: Merck Canada Media Relations, 1-833-906-3725; Kelly Wighton, 647-245-7625

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