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ISSUE 26 – JULY 3, 2015PDF

How NCI Will Spend New Money (If it Comes)


Is new money on the way to NCI? It’s certainly been promised in President Obama’s budget proposal and in the appropriations bills gestating in the House and Senate.

Those who seek logic in history will read much into timing:

After a decade of flat funding, decreases and inflationary erosion, the purchasing power of the NIH budget is where it was the year the doubling began in 1999.

Yet, a cycle this is not. The institute’s 1999 message was “Give us the money and we will use it wisely, because we are the best.”
In 2015, a leaner, more focused NCI is delivering the more compelling message: “Give us the money and we will give you the cutting edge of precision medicine.”


Lowy’s First Director’s Report to Advisory Panel

The following is a transcript of NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy’s remarks to the joint meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board and the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, June 24:

I’m coming to the close of my third month as acting director, and I’d like to give you a status report. It has been really interesting and exciting for me and I can’t thank all of you enough for your incredible support—both my colleagues in NCI, and so many of you extramural colleagues.

    Senate Appropriators Approve $2 Billion for NIH

    The Senate Committee on Appropriations June 25 approved the fiscal 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill, which would boost NIH’s budget to $32 billion—an increase of $2 billion above fiscal 2015.

    The $153.2 billion measure would provide the largest increase NIH has received since the doubling of its budget was completed in 2003.

    BSA Approves Three Concepts at Joint Meeting with NCAB

    The NCI Board of Scientific Advisors approved the following concepts at a meeting June 24:

    • The Non-Communicable Disease Regional Infrastructure Core Planning Grants program seeks to support activities for the planning and designing of sustainable, regional research infrastructure core, established to build, strengthen, and coordinate research and training of non-communicable diseases in low and middle-income countries or regions.

      The Cancer Letter’s Coverage of Power Morcellation Wins Three Journalism Awards

      The Cancer Letter won a first place 2015 National Press Club Award in the NPC’s annual journalism competition June 26.

      The award recognizes Matthew Ong’s series “Power Morcellation: A Hazardous Practice” as the winner in the Newsletter Journalism category.

        In Brief

        • Raphael Pollock named surgeon-in-chief for OSU Health System

        • Jonathan Licht named director of UF Cancer Center

        • George Wilding named vice provost at MD Anderson Cancer Center 

        • LIVESTRONG Foundation appoints Donna Palmer and Katie Merrell to leadership team

        • Cyrus Ghajar receives $4.1 million award from the Department of Defense

        Drugs and Targets

        • EMA grants accelerated approval to Opdivo in metastatic melanoma

        • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society accelerates payment to Celator Pharmaceuticals

        • Mevion Medical Systems delivers proton accelerator to UH Seidman Cancer Center
        • Proton Partners International Ltd. acquires site for proton beam therapy center in Wales

        20150702 - Jul. 2, 2015
        ISSUE 25 – JUNE 26, 2015PDF

        NIH Receives Glimmer of Hope as AHRQ Inches Closer to Elimination


        The House and Senate appropriations committees earlier this week passed parallel spending bills that would boost NIH budgets while eliminating the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality, a $465 million agency that plays a central role in the implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

        After more than a decade of flat funding and budget cuts, both bills provided aggressive increases for NIH:

        • The House appropriations committee approved a proposed $1.1 billion increase on June 24.

        • Senate subcommittee appropriators went even further, proposing a $2 billion increase during markup June 23.


        ASCO Publishes Drug Value Assessment Tool

        The American Society of Clinical Oncology earlier this week published a proposed framework for assessing the value of new cancer treatments.

        The paper, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology June 22, quantifies clinical benefit, side effects and cost as components of value.

        ASCO’s objective is to build a standardized tool that can be used as the basis of shared decision-making by oncologists and their patients.

        OHSU Reaches $1 Billion Goal, Begins Recruiting Scientists and Researchers

        Oregon Health & Science University met the challenge posed by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny by raising $500 million in less than two years, earning the Knights’ matching gift and setting a $1 billion fundraising record. The announcement was made June 25.

        The $1 billion will support the first large-scale program dedicated to early detection of lethal cancers. OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will now begin rapid recruitment of about 25 of top-tier researchers.

        Appropriations Bill Seeks to Preempt FDA Efforts to Broaden Tobacco Regulation

        A $20.65 billion agriculture appropriations bill, which cleared a House subcommittee June 18, seeks to limit FDA’s ability to review electronic cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products already on the market.

        The legislation—which was approved by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies—would prevent the FDA Center for Tobacco Products from requiring products already on the market to go through the Premarket Tobacco Review application process under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

          Study: Widespread Overtreatment Of Benign Lung Nodules in Community Oncology Practices

          Thousands of U.S. patients may be undergoing unnecessary lung biopsies and surgeries annually due to overtreatment of benign lung nodules, according to a study published in the journal CHEST.

          The study—funded by Integrated Diagnostics, or Indi—examined how community pulmonologists treated and managed the care of 377 patients with indeterminate (medium-sized) lung nodules. The paper is titled “Management of Pulmonary Nodules by Community Pulmonologists: A Multicenter Observational Study.”

            Funding Opportunity

            AACR Launches Grant Program For Young Investigators

            The American Association for Cancer Research has launched the AACR NextGen Grants for Transformative Cancer Research, a funding initiative to stimulate innovative research from young investigators.

            The grant mechanism is intended to promote and support creative, paradigm-shifting cancer research that, because of its very nature, may not otherwise be funded through existing channels.

              In Brief

              • Five new members appointed to NCAB

              • Five members rotate off the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors

              • AHRQ to fund three centers of excellence with $52 million over five years

              • Maurizio D’Incalci receives award from European Association of Cancer Research, AACR, and Italian Cancer Society

              • Conquer Cancer Foundation honors six oncology practices with Clinical Trials Participation Awards

              • Broad Institute to collaborate with Google Genomics

              • Guardant Health partners with SWOG for NSCLC study
              • Karmanos Cancer Institute and Detroit Tigers to host “Pink Out the Park”

               Drugs and Targets

              • FDA grants priority review to MM-398

              • Soligenix to recruit patients for phase III study

              • Advaxis submits special protocol assessment to FDA
              • Amgen and Roche to collaborate on phase Ib study

              • Cigna publishes positive coverage decision for VeriStrat

              20150626 - Jun. 26, 2015
              ISSUE 24 – JUNE 19, 2015PDF

              Are Cancer Drugs Worth the Money?
              MSKCC Tool Tests Pricing Rationale

              A health services researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has proposed a method for assessing whether cancer drugs are rationally priced.

              Peter Bach, director of the MSKCC Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, constructed DrugAbacus, a tool for analyzing the value of the new generation of cancer drugs.



              House Spending Bill to Eliminate AHRQ While Adding $1.1 Billion to NIH Budget

              A $153 billion spending bill that cleared a House subcommittee June 17 seeks to abolish the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the federal entity that funds patient-centered outcomes research and monitors the manner in which medicine is practiced in the U.S.

              At the same time, the bill proposes increasing the NIH budget to $31.2 billion, a $1.1 billion above this year’s level and $100 million more than the White House requested.

              AAUP Censures MD Anderson

              MD Anderson Cancer Center has been censured by the American Association of University Professors, an organization that defends academic freedom and shared governance.

              The decision was made at AAUP’s annual meeting, which concluded June 13 in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1915, AAUP has 47,000 individual members and 300 chapters.

              Congress Reintroduces Bill to Limit Out-of-Pocket Costs for Oral Anticancer Drugs

              House and Senate sponsors have reintroduced the Cancer Treatment Parity Act, a bill that would require insurers to provide coverage for oral anticancer drugs on terms no less favorable than coverage for intravenous chemotherapy.

              Previously introduced in 2011 and 2013, the 2015 version would reduce out-of-pocket costs for oral chemotherapy, but would not mandate coverage of oral medications.

                CPRIT Reaches Milestone in Providing 2 Million Cancer Prevention Services to Texans

                The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has provided more than 2 million cancer prevention services to Texans across all 254 counties in the state, the institute announced June 16.

                Prevention measures funded by CPRIT grants include tobacco cessation programs, vaccinations, screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, genetic testing and counseling, and survivor care.

                  In Brief

                  • John Sampson named chair of Duke Department of Neurosurgery

                  • John Zaia named director of City of Hope’s Center for Gene Therapy

                  • AHRQ to fund three centers of excellence with $52 million over five years

                  • Eli Lilly & Co. announces collaborations with Dana-Farber and Sarah Cannon Research Institute

                   Drugs and Targets

                  • Gardasil 9 receives marketing authorization from European Commission

                  • FDA approves Ventana ALK (D5F3) CDx companion diagnostic assay for Xalkori

                  20150619 - Jun. 19, 2015