Ethical Challenges with Multiple Myeloma BCMA Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Slot Allocation: A Multi-Institution Experience

Taxiarchis Kourelis, Radhika Bansal, Jesus Berdeja, David Siegel, Krina Patel, Sham Mailankody, Myo Htut, Nina Shah, Sandy W. Wong, Surbhi Sidana, Andrew J. Cowan, Melissa Alsina, Adam Cohen, Sarah A. Holstein, Leif Bergsagel, Sikander Ailawadhi, Noopur Raje, Binod Dhakal, Adriana Rossi, Yi Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies are Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for patients with triple refractory multiple myeloma (MM). Real-world access to CAR-T therapy remains challenging owing to supply chain limitations impacting manufacturing. The goal of this study was to evaluate the extent of this issue and how major centers are handling the challenges of CAR-T manufacturing slot allocation. MM CAR-T physician leaders at each CAR-T treatment center across the United States were surveyed. We received responses from 17 of 20 centers. A median of 1 slot is allocated per month per center, and the median number of patients per center on the waitlist since the FDA's approval of idecabtagene vicleucel is 20 (range, 5 to 100). As a result, patients remain on the waitlist for a median of 6 months (range, 2 to 8 months) prior to leukapheresis. For patient selection, all centers reported using a committee of experienced CAR-T physicians to ensure consistency. To ensure transparency, 15 centers make selection criteria, selection timelines, and priority scores readily available for CAR-T providers. Centers also reported using ethical values for selection: (1) equal treatment: time spent on waiting list (n = 12); (2) priority to the worst-off: limited therapeutic options (n = 14), MM burden (n = 11), high Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Comorbidity Index (n = 5); (3) maximize benefit: most likely to complete apheresis (n = 13) or infusion (n = 13) or to achieve response (n = 8); and (4) social value: younger patients (n = 3). Maximizing benefit was considered the most important criterion by 10 centers. This study is the first attempt to evaluate existing issues with CAR-T access for patients with MM and the variability and challenges in patient selection. Integrating ethical resource allocation strategies, similar to those described here, into formal institutional policies would help streamline access to CAR-T therapy and protect the needs of both current and future patients and physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-258
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation and Cellular Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Access
  • CAR T cells
  • Multiple myeloma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology
  • Transplantation


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