Companion Diagnostics Lessons Learned and the Path Forward From the Programmed Death Ligand-1 Rollout

Joseph E. Willis, Frederick Eyerer, Eric E. Walk, Patricia Vasalos, Georganne Bradshaw, Sophia Louise Yohe, Jordan S. Laser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Context.—Programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) immunohistochemistry companion diagnostic assays play a crucial role as predictive markers in patients being considered for immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy. However, because of a convergence of several factors, including recognition of increased types of cancers susceptible to immunotherapy, increasing numbers of immune checkpoint inhibitors, and release of multiple PD-L1 immunohistochemistry antibodies with differing reporting systems, this complex testing environment has led to significant levels of confusion for pathologists and medical oncologists. Objective.—To identify which processes and procedures have contributed to the current challenges surrounding programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)/PD-L1 companion diagnostics and to propose potential remedies to this issue. This is based upon input from key industrial stakeholders in conjunction with the College of American Pathologists Personalized Health Care Committee. Design.—A meeting of representatives of pharmaceutical and in vitro diagnostic companies along with the Personalized Health Care Committee reviewed the process of release of the PD-L1 companion diagnostic assays using a modified root cause analysis format. The modified root cause analysis envisioned an ideal circumstance of development and implementation of a companion diagnostic to identify shortcomings in the rollout of the PD-L1 assay and to suggest actions to improve future companion diagnostic assay releases. Results.—The group recommended improvements to key principles in companion diagnostics implementation related to multi-stakeholder communication, increased regulatory flexibility to incorporate postapproval medical knowledge, improved cross-disciplinary information exchange between medical oncology and pathology societies, and enhanced postmarket training programs. Conclusions.—The rapidly changing nature of and increasing complexity associated with companion diagnostics require a fundamental review of processes related to their design, implementation, and oversight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


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