Issue 36 - Sep 29, 2017
  • Peter Pisters hits the right notes in town hall meeting at MD Anderson

    Returning to Houston for a town hall meeting at MD Anderson on Sept. 27, Peter Pisters, the institution’s freshly-appointed president, hit every note a guy in his position needed to hit: baseball, football, shared values, shared governance, book clubs, reminiscences on growing up nerdy in Canada, the story of how he met his wife, anecdotes from taking care of MD Anderson patients during Hurricane Rita.

    He brought with him a decades-old Grundig radio he used while taking care of MD Anderson patients during the 2005 Hurricane Rita, pictures of cute children and adorable dogs, but no notes—the talk just flowed, flawlessly, organically.

  • In draft, USPSTF recommends screening with hrHPV without cytology

    To detect high-grade precancerious cervical lesions and cervical cancer, women ages 30 to 65 may no longer need to rely on co-testing, and can choose to either screen for high-risk human papillomavirus types or undergo cervical cytology, according to a recent draft recommendation released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

    The draft statement, which is open for public comment through Oct. 9, recommends screening for cervical cancer every three years with cervical cytology alone in women ages 21 to 29. For women ages 30 to 65, USPSTF recommends either screening every three years with cervical cytology alone, or every five years with hrHPV testing alone.

  • Lowy & Schiller at the Lasker Awards: The paradox of disease prevention, and how some scientists rise above their peers

    Douglas Lowy and John Schiller received the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award on Sept. 15 for research that led to development of the human papillomavirus vaccine.

    Lowy, who is completing his stint as the NCI acting director, becomes the first sitting head of the institute—permanent or acting—to win the award, which is described as America’s Nobel Prize (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 8).

     

  • Guest Editorial

    A costly “rebranding” of an old drug comes with a 700% price increase 

    Funaro is a resident at Duke Pharmacy, Friedman is the James B. Powell Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Duke, and Weant is a clinical pharmacist in neuro-oncology at Duke Pharmacy.

    Drug shortages, exorbitant medication costs, and price gouging tactics are facets of the American healthcare system that most providers have become all too familiar with in recent years. Unfortunately, oncology is no exception. Given the critical nature of the diseases they treat, chemotherapy agents, no matter how old, are particularly subject to these large and arbitrary price increases.

  • In Brief

    • CancerCare expands financial assistance for patients affected by hurricanes
    • Research!America to honor chair emeritus John Edward Porter and medical and health research advocacy leaders
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center receives gift to establish pancreatic cancer institute
    • Linus Chuang named chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Western Connecticut Health Network
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Verzenio for advanced or metastatic breast cancers
    • First anti-PD-1 therapy approved for advanced gastric adenocarcinoma
    • Amgen and AbbVie agree to settlement allowing commercialization of Amgevita
    • FDA approves new label for Sun Pharma’s Odomzo for sustained duration of response in treatment of basal cell carcinoma
Issue 35 - Sep 22, 2017
  • In a 6-6 vote, ODAC says “maybe” to Sutent for adjuvant kidney cancer—But at FDA “Maybe” has meaning

    With frustrating photo finish voting results—6-6—still on the screen, FDA’s cancer czar Richard Pazdur delivered an acerbic thank-you to members of the agency’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee:

    “Well, that’s the end vote, it makes our job definitely easier,” said Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence, who gets sarcastic sometimes.

  • Pisters named president of MD Anderson

    Peter Pisters has been named president of MD Anderson Cancer Center and will begin in his new role later this year.

    The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the appointment Sept. 18. Pisters, currently the president and CEO of University Health Network in Toronto, was unanimously selected as the sole finalist for the position at a board meeting Aug. 25—under state law, university government boards must name finalists for a presidency at least 21 days before making an appointment (The Cancer Letter, Sept. 1).

  • NCI outlines research priorities in annual plan and bypass budget for FY19

    NCI has released its professional judgment budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019, requesting $6.38 billion—$1 billion more than FY17—to fully fund promising areas in cancer research.

  • In Brief

    • NCI awards $12.4 million lymphoma research grant renewal to University of Iowa and Mayo Clinic
    • Roswell Park awarded contract to keep running NY Smokers’ Quitline 
    • ASTRO awards early-career research grants to physician-scientists
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Novartis’s Rydapt gets EU approval for AML and SM indications
    • FDA approves lower dose of cabazitaxel for prostate cancer
    • EMA committee issues positive opinion for Tesaro’s Zejula
    • Opdivo receives Japanese approval for advanced gastric cancer indications
Issue 34 - Sep 15, 2017
  • Five UC Comprehensive Cancer Centers form consortium to pool patient data for translational research

    Five academic cancer centers within the University of California system are putting together a single consortium to integrate their electronic health records, forming a clinical trials monolith that could be used by pharmaceutical companies doing research in the Golden State.

    The UC Cancer Consortium, announced Sept. 11, consists of the following NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers:

    • University of California, Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center,
    • The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, Irvine,
    • The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, Los Angeles,
    • University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and
    • University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Ashworth’s challenge: Build one very big data sharing system across the University of California cancer centers

    As the inaugural chair of the University of California Cancer Consortium, Alan Ashworth has to do a little cheerleading and a lot of pushing for integration of the electronic health records across the UC cancer centers.

    All five cancer centers use Epic, but that doesn’t mean much. “We’re all on Epic—but they’re all different instances,” Ashworth said to The Cancer Letter. “So, we need another solution to put all these things together.

  • Gottlieb: Oncology center shows how FDA can improve regulation, lower development costs

    FDA has a legitimate role to play in slowing down the cost of developing drugs, and it can do so by relying on good regulatory science, the agency’s commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

    Speaking at a Washington event sponsored by Friends of Cancer Research and focused on precision medicine, Gottlieb said the agency’s Oncology Center of Excellence demonstrates what the agency can do to streamline the drug development process.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    The Next Step: Neil Hayes picks up stakes at UNC to build an NCI-designated cancer program in Memphis

    The Next Step is an occasional series of conversations in which The Cancer Letter will focus on cancer researchers in the midst of transition from one position to another.

    Here we sit down with Neil Hayes, who after 15 years at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he was most recently a co leader of the Clinical Research Program, is leaving for Memphis to become the scientific director of the University of Tennessee West Institute for Cancer Research.

  • In Brief

    • Teitell named director of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
    • AACR calls for sound policy, sustained funding increases
    • Allison, Schreiber win 2017 Balzan Prize 
    • Mannel Appointed as an NRG Oncology Group Chairman
    • Marcus named associate director for basic research, shared resources at Winship
    • Nominations open for AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for translational and clinical cancer research
    • Vanderbilt’s Penson named to JNCI editorial post
    • Roswell Park joins the Oncology Information Exchange Network
    • Kimmel Cancer Center to open welcome center
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Bayer’s Aliqopa gets FDA accelerated approval for relapsed follicular lymphoma
    • FDA approves Amgen’s Mvasi, a bevacizumab biosimilar
    • Cemiplimab receives FDA breakthrough designation for advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma