20150508 - May 8, 2015
ISSUE 18 – MAY 8, 2015PDF

Nascent Group Points to a Way To Validate, Pay for Genomic Tests

How is this for a plan:

Replace the U.S. system for validation and payment for cancer genomic tests with something that actually makes sense.

Dane Dickson, a doctor in Idaho, who until recently had the distinction of being the only oncologist working under the roof of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would like to do just that—and some important players in cancer research are betting on his success.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

A Doctor’s Quest to Save Personalized Medicine

Dane Dickson would like to change the U.S. system for validation and coverage of molecular tests, thereby opening the road to development of complex tests and comprehensive genomic assays.

Recently, Dickson formed a nonprofit public-private partnership, called MED-C and published a white paper, which is posted here.

In an interview with Paul Goldberg, editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, Dickson described his rationale for trying a new approach to solving this fundamental problem in personalized medicine.

Duke Settles with Potti’s Patients; Misconduct Probe Now in Fifth Year

Duke University has settled the suits filed by patients who were enrolled in clinical trials that were testing the technology developed by Anil Potti and his mentor Joseph Nevins.

By settling, Duke avoided having to confront embarrassing revelations about how much the university’s deans knew about the problems in the genomic research organization.

 

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Gunsalus: Duke’s 4.5 Years is at Extreme End of Spectrum for a Misconduct Probe

The Cancer Letter invited C. K. Gunsalus, an expert on scientific misconduct, to discuss the settlement of the lawsuits against Duke.

Gunsalus is the director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, research professor, Coordinated Science Laboratory, professor emerita, College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She runs a consulting company and is the author of The Young Professional’s Survival Guide (Harvard University Press, 2012) and The College Administrator’s Survival Guide (Harvard University Press, 2006).

In Brief

  • Dan Theodorescu and Seth Lerner named editors-in-chief of Bladder Cancer

  • UW Health, ProHealth Care, and Aurora Health Care agree to co-manage cancer center

  • GW Cancer Institute launches online patient navigation training

  • NIH raises nearly $700,000 for The Children’s Inn
  • Proton Partners selects companies to help supply U.K. proton beam centers
  • Moffitt Cancer Center and Aetna form oncology medical home model
  • Swedish Cancer Institute adopts Syapse software for its precision medicine program
Drugs and Targets

  • FDA grants breakthrough designation to Venetoclax

  • DanDrit Biotech USA forms collaboration with GISCAD Foundation

  • PhRMA report says member companies invested $51.2 billion in R&D

20150501 - May 1, 2015
ISSUE 17 – MAY 1, 2015PDF

Thumbs Up on Amgen’s T-VEC to Treat Melanoma; Is it Local Therapy for Systemic Disease?

An FDA advisory committee April 29 recommended approval of a metastatic melanoma treatment based on an attenuated Herpes Simplex Virus-1.

In a joint meeting, the agency’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee and its Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee voted 22 to 1 to recommend full approval for talimogene laherparepvec, sponsored by Amgen Inc.

At the contentious all-day meeting, which ran twice as long as a standard session of ODAC, the unusually large group of advisors summoned by the FDA didn’t get the opportunity to clearly identify the group of patients who stand to benefit from the agent, also called T-VEC, or specify the agent’s place in a sequence of melanoma treatments.

NIH Slated to Receive $10 Billion Increase In Second 21st Century Cures Draft Bill

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce published the second “discussion draft” for a comprehensive bipartisan initiative aimed at streamlining development of drugs and medical devices.

The proposed legislation, called “21st Century Cures,” was launched April 30, 2014, and is led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chief deputy whip.

In addition to boosting NIH funding by $10 billion over five years and establishing a clinical trial data system for federally funded trials, the discussion draft includes provisions for developing the next line of antibiotics.

Institute of Medicine to Become National Academy of Medicine

The membership of the National Academy of Sciences voted April 28 at its 152nd annual meeting to change the name of the Institute of Medicine to the National Academy of Medicine, effective July 1.

The National Academy of Medicine will continue to be an honorific society and will inherit the more than 1,900 current elected members and foreign associates of the IOM.

 

Letter to the Editor

MD Anderson Administration Behaves as a “Financially Privileged Elitist Group”

To the Editor:

Congratulations on your outstanding article entitled “MD Anderson Execs Get Big Raises In the Midst of Faculty Morale Woes.” As a 35-year faculty member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, now retired, I am deeply disturbed at the endangered reputation of one of the greatest institutions of its kind in the world. Every other month seems to bring some embarrassing new revelation at the hands of the current leadership.

 

An Appreciation

Mike Katz, 61, Advocate, Educator

By Michael D. Scott

The cancer field is filled with advocates—advocates for research into specific forms of malignancy, advocates for access to care for patients with limited resources, advocates for pediatric cancers—you name it. Many of these people are motivated, passionate, determined, and successful in moving their specific agendas forward in the interests of patients, clinicians, researchers, and others.

In Brief

  • Margaret Kripke to retire as CPRIT chief scientist

  • CPRIT to award two grants

  • ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation names annual award winners

  • Karmanos Cancer Institute raises $2.8 million at annual dinner
  • IU Simon Cancer Center raises $720,000 at CHUCKSTRONG tailgate gala
  • Dana-Farber, Harvard School of Public Health, and Irish Cancer Society form collaboration
  • St. Jude forms affiliate with Novant Health
  • Geisinger Health System opens precision medicine center
Drugs and Targets

  • FDA grants orphan designation to Reolysin in malignant glioma

  • Paclical receives market authorization in Russian Federation

  • Celgene International II Sarl forms collaboration with MedImmune

20150424 - Apr 24, 2015
ISSUE 16 – APRIL 24, 2015PDF

Foes Immediately Vow to Nullify Task Force Guideline on Mammography for Women 40-49

The breast cancer screening recommendations proposed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force earlier this week are basically unchanged from the 2009 version.

WARNING: a reader’s yawn at this juncture would be misplaced.

The recommendations proposed and put in place five years ago were so politically radioactive that they could have jeopardized the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Indeed, the ACA specifically excluded the task force’s 2009 recommendation on mammography.

Immediately after the 2009 draft recommendation was published, then HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in effect urged women between 40 and 49 to disregard the panel’s evidence-based guideline. An amendment to the ACA, called the “Women’s Preventive Health Amendment,” finished the job of invalidating the guideline. (This made the ACA politically viable.)


Mammography: When, Really, is the Right Time? And at What Cost? 

As a firestorm ignites around the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force draft recommendation on mammography, researchers and advocates are grappling with the questions at the heart of the controversy:

• Should women start screening for breast cancer at age 40 or 50?
• What is the prevalence of false-positives and overdiagnosis in these age groups?
• What are the costs of harm?

The USPSTF draft recommendation, published April 20, comes on the heels of a controversial study which estimates that the

U.S. spends $4 billion a year on unnecessary mammograms for women between the ages of 40 to 59.

Mandl: Costs of Harm from Mammography Must Be Balanced Against Benefits

The U.S. spends $4 billion on unnecessary mammograms each year, according to a study published in the April issue of Health Affairs.

Titled “National Expenditure for False-Positive Mammograms and Breast Cancer Overdiagnoses Estimated at $4 Billion a Year,” the study, by Kenneth Mandl and Mei-Sing Ong, uses expenditure data from a major U.S. health care insurer for 702,154 women in 2011 to 2013.

Of the $4 billion, $2.8 billion is attributed to false-positive mammograms, and $1.2 billion to breast cancer overdiagnosis. The study measures the rate of false positives at 11 percent and overdiagnosis at 22 percent.

Wender: Mammography Guidelines Should Balance Benefits and Risks, Not Costs

“Let me be really clear: I don’t think that article should have or will have any impact on the [US Preventive Services Task Force], and it will not have any impact on [the American Cancer Society] guidelines, either,” Wender said.

 

Four Decades of Mammography Wars

The latest draft guideline by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is part of nearly a four-decade war over the appropriateness of screening women between the ages of 40 and 49.

In this war, Congress usually intervened, claiming that “common sense” dictates that mammography is efficacious in younger women. This war has often engulfed NCI.

This timeline appeared in part in the Nov. 20, 2009, issue of The Cancer Letter.

AACR Annual Meeting 2015

  • Jose Baselga becomes president of AACR

  • Two Stand Up To Cancer Dream Teams launched in ovarian and lung cancer

  • Multiple award winners named

The Cancer Letter Receives Sigma Delta Chi Award

The Cancer Letter won a 2014 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists on April 23.

The Sigma Delta Chi Awards is a national competition dating back to 1932. The award recognizes Matthew Ong’s series “Power Morcellation: A Hazardous Practice” as the winner in the Newsletter category.

“This award recognizes a newsletter that renders outstanding public services through extensive coverage of an issue facing the community it serves,” the description reads.

Ong’s series, which includes an interview documentary, can be found here.

20150417 - Apr 17, 2015
ISSUE 15 – APRIL 17, 2015PDF

Lowy: “We Need to Continually Look at the Distribution of Funds That We Allocate to the Areas of Investment”

Douglas Lowy became the NCI acting director April 1. On April 16, Lowy spoke with Paul Goldberg, editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter.

Paul Goldberg: Congratulations, first of all. How is the job treating you?

Douglas Lowy: Well, it is certainly a lot of work, but it’s an incredible opportunity—I have the opportunity of working with terrific people every day. I love it.

PG: Did you want this job?

DL: I never thought of myself as either becoming acting NCI director or the permanent NCI director, and it was not something I lobbied for.


MD Anderson Execs Get Big Raises In the Midst of Faculty Morale Woes

  

 

Two top administrators at MD Anderson Cancer Center, whose job responsibilities include maintaining harmony with the faculty, received substantial pay increases for having “excelled beyond expectation” and “effectively” directing the center’s clinical activities.

According to documents obtained by The Cancer Letter under the Texas Public Information Act, MD Anderson Provost Ethan Dmitrovsky and Physician-in-Chief Thomas Buchholz received $200,000 each in deferred compensation in 2015.

With incentive pay, supplemental annuity and deferred compensation included, the 2015 raise could boost Dmitrovsky’s total paycheck by as much as 22.9 percent compared to fiscal 2014. Buchholz’s compensation could increase by 31.4 percent.

Lawmakers Repeal Medicare SGR in Bipartisan Vote

President Barack Obama signed the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act on April 14, permanently repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support: The House of Representatives voted 392 to 37 on April 2, and the Senate approved it with a 92 to 8 vote April 14.

In Brief

  • NCI renews Purdue’s designation as an NCI Basic Science Cancer Center

  • Joseph Gulfo named executive director of the Rothman Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Don Gabriel joins United BioSource Corp.

  • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin opened its MACC Fund Center clinical and Northwestern Mutual Day Hospital

  • Roche acquires CAPP Medical

Drugs and Targets

  • Health Canada approves new indication for Xtandi

  • Bayer HealthCare expands global clinical development of copanlisib

  • Immunocore and MedImmune enter into second collaboration

20150410 - Apr 10, 2015
ISSUE 14 – APRIL 10, 2015PDF

MD Anderson Violated Academic Freedom, Governance, Tenure Standards, AAUP Says

MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho’s administration acted in disregard of academic standards and the institution’s internal faculty appointment policy, according to a 23-page final report published April 8 by the American Association of University Professors. 

 The report is the outcome of a yearlong feud between the cancer center and AAUP, which defends academic freedom and shared governance.


  

Congress Steps in to Examine FDA Device Regs As Insurers Restrict Coverage of Morcellation

Nearly a year and a half after a surgical tool routinely used by gynecologists disseminated her undiagnosed sarcoma, Amy Reed found herself back in the operating room—this time for removal of a second metastasis.

Reed’s leiomyosarcoma, which had been in remission after a massive surgery and post-morcellation chemotherapy, has spread to her lumbar vertebrae.

False Positive Mammograms, Overdiagnosis Cost $4 Billion

The costs of false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses add up to $4 billion a year, according to a paper in the April edition of the journal Health Affairs.

The issue contains a cluster of papers focusing on the cost and quality of cancer care.

Draft Guideline on Colorectal Cancer Biomarker Published

The American Society for Clinical Pathology, the College of American Pathologists, the Association for Molecular Pathology, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology released a draft of a clinical practice guideline on the use of molecular marker testing for patients with primary or metastatic colorectal carcinoma.

This evidence-based guideline will help establish standard molecular marker testing, guide targeted therapies, and advance personalized care for these patients.

In Brief

  • Karen Jensen joins Scripps Health as director of the oncology clinical care line

  • Chandini Portteus named president and CEO of LIVESTRONG Foundation 

  • Margaret Hamburg, former FDA commissioner, appointed foreign secretary of IOM

  • The NCCN Foundation awarded fifth series of Young Investigator Awards to six oncology researchers

  • Christina Coughlin named chief medical officer of Immunocore Ltd.

  • Gerrit Los named vice president of pharmacology at AnaptysBio Inc.

Drugs and Targets

  • Vectibix gets European approval for wild-type RAS colon cancer

  • Intrexon Corp. signs cooperative research and development agreement with NCI

  • Rubicon Genomics Inc. extends its clinical supply agreement with Agendia

  • Merck and Pfizer will begin co-promoting Xalkori in eight countries

20150403 - Apr 3, 2015
ISSUE 13 – APRIL 3, 2015PDF

Over 48 Hours, Power Shifts at NCI, ACS, Dana-Farber and MD Anderson

Over the first two days in April, massive leadership changes occurred at top institutions in cancer research:

• On April 1, the top job at NCI switched from Harold Varmus to Douglas Lowy, with the Lowy being formally named acting director.

• On April 1, Edward Benz announced his plans to leave presidency at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the institution’s board began the search for his successor.

• On April 2, the American Cancer Society announced that the job of CEO would go to former Johnson & Johnson executive Gary Reedy.

• On April 2, the UT System announced that Lynda Chin will be vacating her jobs as head of genomic medicine and scientific director of a research institute she co-founded. Chin, who is married to MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, came to Houston from Dana-Farber as a team in 2011.

Resolving Disputes in Precision Medicine: The Question of CYP2D6 Remains Open

What does it take to declare that a scientific dispute is resolved? 

A long-running argument over the role of a biomarker in the treatment of breast cancer illustrates a challenge that runs through the heart of precision medicine: the absence of mechanisms for resolving disagreements between scientists.

The story of CYP2D6, a mutation that may (or may not) predict the manner in which the patient metabolizes the cheap, widely used drug tamoxifen, is of the sort that makes insiders shake their heads.

The question is relevant to an estimated 150,000 newly diagnosed estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients a year in the U.S. alone.

A Biomarker Court? Who Should Decide?

Answers from: Carmen Allegra, Lisa McShane, Robert Cook-Deegan, Barnett Kramer, Frances Visco, and FDA

No pharma company is clamoring to get a response to the question of significance of CYP2D6. 

Since an estimated 7 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are poor metabolizers of tamoxifen, perhaps as many as 93 percent are good candidates for receiving this cheap generic drug. 

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory And North Shore-LIJ to Form $120 Million Collaboration

Two New York institutions—Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the North Shore-LIJ Health System—announced a $120 million cancer research collaboration on April 2.

The collaboration aims to develop a clinical cancer research unit at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute’s headquarters in Lake Success, N.Y., support early-phase clinical studies, and recruit and train clinician-scientists.

North Shore-LIJ and CSHL will continue as independent organizations governed by their respective boards of trustees. The sources of funds for the collaboration were not disclosed.

In Brief

  • Lewis Cantley to Deliver Takamatsu Lecture at AACR Annual Meeting

  • Lucille Adams-Campbell to Deliver Minorities in Cancer Research Lecture at AACR Annual Meeting

  • Robert Gentleman appointed vice president of computational biology at 23andMe Inc.

  • Aleksandar Zafirovski named associate director for administration for Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University

  • Scripps Clinic Medical Group acquires three radiation oncology services

  • Aeterna Zentaris to transfer library of 100,000 compounds to center at Medical University of South Carolina

  • GlaxoSmithKline to establish third global center for vaccine research in Rockville, Md.

Drugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Jadenu, an oral formulation of Exjade

  • FDA grants priority review to Kyprolis

  • FDA updates label for Zytiga plus prednisone in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center and Astellas Pharma Inc. sign option agreement for AML research

  • Eli Lilly and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals to evaluate combination of demcizumab and Alimta

  • Merck and Syndax Pharmaceuticals to evaluate combination of Keytruda and entinostat

  • Intrexon Corporation and Merck Serono to collaborate on CAR-T cancer therapies

20150327 - Mar 27, 2015
ISSUE 12 – MARCH 27, 2015PDF

“All Pull; No Push”—Varmus Describes his Reasons for Leaving In Farewell Town Hall

In a farewell town hall meeting March 24, NCI Director Harold Varmus reflected on statements he made during his first day on the job, July 12, 2010, summarizing the proceeding four-and-three-quarter years; listing goals met and lamenting work left unfinished.

After Varmus steps down March 31, he will be replaced by Deputy Director Douglas Lowy, who will become the acting director.

Varmus’s remarks ranged from his reasons for leaving NCI—“All pull; no push”—to the accomplishments of the institute during his tenure, and lessons learned from obstacles unforeseen.

He discussed his Provocative Questions initiative and sequestration; the RAS initiative and the Frederick National Lab; as well as the formation of the National Clinical Trials Network and the completion of the National Lung Screening Trial.

Guest Editorial

How the Lung-MAP Clinical Trial is Responding to Rapidly Changing Science

By Roy S. Herbst, David Gandara and Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou

When the Lung Master Protocol clinical trial (Lung-MAP or S1400) (1) was launched in June 2014, the goal of this first-of-its kind trial was simple: find effective treatments for seriously ill patients suffering from a specific type of lung cancer.

Lung-MAP is unique—a biomarker driven, multi-drug, multi-arm, study design, using a targeted screening approach, with state-of-the-art genomic profiling of neoplastic cells to match patients with sub-studies testing investigational new drugs and immunotherapies, based on their unique tumor profiles.

Seventeen Percent of MD Anderson Faculty Signed Petition Disagreeing with Faculty Senate Executive Committee

About 17 percent of the faculty members at MD Anderson Cancer Center signed a petition that disagreed with the institution’s Faculty Senate in its efforts to step in and improve morale at the Houston-based institution.

The Faculty Senate recently sent out a letter requesting that the UT System officials and the Board of Regents “provide guidance” to the MD Anderson administration “in establishing milestones and timelines to implement measures to improve the morale of the faculty and the general health of the Institution.”

 

Republican Budgets Propose $5 Trillion Cut, On Top of Sequestration, Through 2025

The Senate passed its 2016 budget early Friday morning in a marathon voting session—an event called “vote-a-rama” in Washington-speak—that split along party lines with a 52-46 Republican margin.

The Senate budget resolution would slash $5.1 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, mirroring the resolution passed by the House 228 to 199 March 25, which cut spending by $5.5 trillion over the next nine years.

Both budgets agree on keeping sequestration cuts in place, and on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

House Votes to Repeal Sustainable Growth Rate; Senate Delays Action

The House voted 392-37 to approve legislation that would eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate, a method currently used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to control spending by Medicare on physician services.

While the House voted on March 26, the Senate adjourned for spring recess without acting on the bill.

Physicians are now faced with the prospect of a 21 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement when the current SGR payment patch expires next week on March 31.

Report: 2 in 5 Cancer Patients “Seriously Concerned” About Bankruptcy

Out-of-pocket costs for health care remain a top concern for many people living with cancer, according to a report by the Cancer Support Community, an international nonprofit.

The study, “An Insight into Patient Access to Care in Cancer,” surveyed 511 cancer patients, 480 of whom live in the U.S. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents were women, and nearly two-thirds were between the ages of 45 and 64.

Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and UPMC Form Big Data Alliance

Three Pittsburgh institutions—Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center—are pooling their electronic medical records to form the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance.

The alliance is funded by UPMC and designed to support applied research and commercialization, along with basic foundational research in medicine and computer science. UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, will lead the effort.

In Brief

  • FDA’s Richard Pazdur named one of 50 World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine

  • Elizabeth Jaffee receives clinical care research award from AACR

  • Jimmie Holland receives Women of Influence award

  • Gairdner Foundation names 2015 award winners

  • Bloomberg Philanthropies to launch Data for Health system

Drugs and Targets

  • CHMP grants positive opinion to Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine

  • EMA grants orphan designation to Reolysin

  • Teikoku Pharma USA submits NDA for alcohol-free docetaxel formulation

  • Rich Pharmaceuticals plans to launch clinical trials at Khon Kaen University in Thailand

20150320 - Mar 20, 2015
ISSUE 11 – MARCH 20, 2015PDF

“Trust Has Been Broken” at MD Anderson; UT Chancellor Calls for Shared Governance

There will be no more faculty surveys at MD Anderson, UT System Chancellor William McRaven pledged to the institution’s faculty in a closed-door meeting March 18.

“I don’t intend to have any more surveys,” McRaven said in a meeting where he acknowledged the concerns of the faculty, but also expressed support for the administration of the Houston-based cancer hospital.

“I think your surveys—at least the ones I’ve seen—give me a clear indication of where the faculty is,” McRaven said at the meeting that lasted for about an hour-and-a-half. “And maybe it’s not unanimous, but I’ve got to tell you that the numbers in the surveys are pretty damning, for the lack of a better term.”

McRaven, the former admiral who, as head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, oversaw the covert operation responsible for killing Osama bin Laden, expressed support for the institution’s Faculty Senate, thereby establishing it as the negotiating partner for the administration headed by President Ronald DePinho.

MD Anderson Pre-empts AAUP Report by Releasing Draft to The Press—with a Foreword

MD Anderson’s message to the American Association of University Professors boils down to this: A pox on your house.

For starters, President Ronald DePinho and his administration declined to meet with an AAUP committee when it came to campus to investigate a tenure dispute. (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 19, 2014).

This snub notwithstanding, AAUP provided MD Anderson with a draft report marked CONFIDENTIAL: NOT FOR RELEASE. The association’s objective was to give MD Anderson the opportunity to comment—and a comment is exactly what they got.

In the afternoon of March 13, the cancer center’s executive team threw the thing to the press.

Varmus Recommends Funding Boost For NCI Cancer Centers Program

NCI Director Harold Varmus announced plans to gradually increase in the institute’s cancer centers budget over the next four to five years.

“It seems to me, we get more bang for our buck from the centers—many of which have many direct-cost budgets of no more than a million dollars, a lot less than the grants we give out,” Varmus said at the March 11 meeting of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors.

He suggested boosting the centers budget by $10-15 million per year, increasing the total cancer centers budget from $260 million to about $310 million. This plan follows a proposal to reconfigure the formula for awarding cancer center grants.

Lowy Discusses Reducing Cuts to Modular R01 Grants

Following Harold Varmus’s remarks to the Board of Scientific Advisors, Douglas Lowy, soon-to-be acting director of the NCI, focused on reducing the amount of the planned cuts for modular R01 grants.

The plan is cut the reductions in half starting in this fiscal year, from the automatic 17 percent reduction to 8.5 percent, or cutting a 10 percent reduction to 5 percent.

“Our long-term goal is to try to eliminate those cuts completely, but this we estimate will cost about $10 million from the RPG pool, and we would like to see what the is impact on that,” Lowy said.

ASCO Announces Winners Of 2015 Special Awards

The American Society of Clinical Oncology announced the winners of its Special Awards Program. 

The Special Awards recognize the dedication and significant contributions of researchers, patient advocates, and leaders of the global oncology community to enhancing cancer prevention, treatment, and patient care. 

ASCO also named seven recipients of the Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology distinction.

In Brief

  • Fadlo Khuri named president of the American University of Beirut

  • Philip Low receives the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research 

  • Julie Johnson receives Distinguished Scientist Award from Southeastern Universities Research Association

  • Thomas Merchant named chair of St. Jude Department of Radiation Oncology

  • The Community Oncology Alliance forms Community Oncology Pharmacy Association

Drugs and Targets

  • EU approves Jakavi in Polycythemia Vera

  • EMA grants orphan designation to ImMucin

  • Hong Kong Department of Health approves Abraxane

20150318 - Mar 18, 2015
SPECIAL REPORT – MARCH 18, 2015 

MD Anderson Preempts AAUP’s Report By Releasing the Draft to the Press—With a Foreword

MD Anderson’s message to the American Association of University Professors boils down to this:

A pox on your house.

For starters, President Ronald DePinho and his administration declined to meet with an AAUP committee when it came to campus to investigate a tenure dispute. (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 19, 2014).

This snub notwithstanding, AAUP provided MD Anderson with a draft report marked CONFIDENTIAL: NOT FOR RELEASE. The association’s objective was to give MD Anderson the opportunity to comment—and a comment is exactly what they got.

 

20150313 - Mar 13, 2015
ISSUE 10 – MARCH 13, 2015PDF

Cancer Centers Join to Accelerate Trials, Industry Collaborations, Drug Development

Six NCI-designated cancer centers have agreed to pool data from their electronic medical record systems and cancer registries to accelerate discovery of targets and the development of biomarkers.

Launched in May 2014, the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN, was founded by Moffitt Cancer Center and The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center (The Cancer Letter, May 30, 2014).

Recently, ORIEN added four cancer centers: City of Hope, University of Virginia Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center, and the University of New Mexico Cancer Center  (The Cancer Letter, Feb. 27).

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Dalton: I Don’t Know Another Place like ORIEN

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, a partnership of academic cancer centers, has collected data from over 120,000 patients, and recently added four institutions.

“I don’t know of another place that actually follows patients and has the patients donate all their clinical data throughout their lifetime, and tissue to be studied, and allows them the right of contacting the patient,” said Bill Dalton, CEO of M2Gen, founding director of the Moffitt Cancer Center Personalized Medicine Institute, and one of the founders of ORIEN.

U.S. Prescription Drug Spending Increased 13 Percent in 2014

New hepatitis C therapies with high price tags and the exploitation of loopholes for compounded medications contributed to a 13.1 percent increase in U.S. drug spending in 2014, a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to the 2014 Express Scripts Drug Trend Report.

Hepatitis C and compounded medications are responsible for more than half of the increase in overall spending. Excluding those two therapy classes, 2014 drug trend (the year-over-year increase in per capita drug spending) was 6.4 percent.

In Brief

  • Nancy Davidson chosen as president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research

  • Geoffrey Kim named director of FDA’s Division of Hematology Oncology Products 1

  • Sagar Lonial and Charles Stately join senior leadership of Winship Cancer Institute

  • Kevin Behrns named co-editor-and-chief of Surgery

  • Inderbir Gill appointed chair of global initiatives for the American Urological Association

  • University of Virginia and Novant Health to form Northern Virginia regional health system

  • World Molecular Imaging Society and NCI to collaborate on best practices for co-clinical trials

  • Varian Medical Systems chosen to equip two proton therapy centers in England

  • Cancer researchers launch mobile app to track breast cancer symptoms

Drugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Unituxin for neuroblastoma

  • Fast Track Designation granted to HS-410 in bladder cancer

  • Reolysin granted third orphan drug designation

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society published a study on capping cost-sharing for prescription drugs