20160325 - Mar 25, 2016
ISSUE 12 – MARCH 25, 2016PDF



Clifford Hudis Named CEO of ASCO

Clifford Hudis was named CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Hudis, who served as ASCO president in 2013 and 2014, is chief of Breast Medicine Service as well as vice president for government relations and chief advocacy officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Hudis, 56, will start the job at the society’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va., June 27. He will succeed Allen Lichter, who is retiring after having held that job for ten years.

 

NEJM Editors: There Will Be No Clarification For Disputed Power Morcellation Story

The New England Journal of Medicine said it stands by the story that has triggered investigations of a potential breach of patient confidentiality.

In a paper that criticized FDA’s regulatory actions that effectively ended power morcellation in gynecology, Lisa Rosenbaum, an NEJM national correspondent, made a statement that some readers interpreted as suggesting that she had access to confidential patient information (The Cancer Letter, March 18).

Rosenbaum is a cardiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the institution where Amy Reed—a patient who brought national attention to the harm associated with the procedure—underwent her ill-fated hysterectomy. 

Slamming the Door

Part IX – “Furnituregate”

I first heard something about a red sofa that cost an impressive amount of money soon after I started to cover the controversy at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

The sofa, I was told, was to be purchased with MD Anderson funds for the office of Lynda Chin. I wanted to look into it, but I want to look into many things, and some take precedence over others. This seemed to be fun, but it was undeniably trivial.

The sofa in question was intended for the same entity CPRIT was being asked to fund. Had I been able to get it through my thick skull that the furniture was a part of the same story that was causing the ungluing of CPRIT, I would have filed my freedom of information requests sooner.

NCCN Launches Evidence Blocks as Part of its Guidelines

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network launched its value tool, NCCN Evidence Blocks, which will be presented at its annual conference, March 31 to April 2.

NCCN has published two additional resources since its 2015 meeting: the NCCN Framework and the NCCN Quick Guide Series for patients.

In Brief
  • Maha Hussain joins Northwestern University Lurie Cancer Center

  • Jean-Yves Douillard appointed chief medical officer of ESMO

  • Karmanos promotes five scientific staff members

  • Jennifer Pietenpol receives award from T.J. Martell Foundation
  • Pediatric Oncologist Dennis Hughes pleads guilty to collecting child pornography

  • American Cancer Society receives $1.58 million grant from The Merck Foundation

  • MD Anderson submits plan to comply with Texas “Campus Carry” gun law 

  • The Cancer Letter’s coverage of power morcellation named a finalist in the 2015 Best in Business Awards for Outstanding Business Journalism
Drugs and Targets
  • FDA Approves Roche Hepatits C RNA Test

  • UPenn and Genisphere form photodynamic therapy collaboration

 

20160318 - Mar 18, 2016
ISSUE 11 – MARCH 18, 2016PDF



Brigham Doc’s NEJM Paper Decries Morcellation’s Demise—Did She Get Confidential Patient Information?

Clearly, Lisa Rosenbaum wanted to trigger a heated discussion—but not of the sort she ended up with.

Rosenbaum, a national correspondent at the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on the demise of power morcellation, a once widely used gynecological procedure, which in some cases ended up disseminating undetected uterine sarcomas.

In a paper published in the March 10 issue of the journal and titled “N-of-1 Policymaking—Tragedy, Trade-offs, and the Demise of Morcellation,” Rosenbaum alleges that Amy Reed, a high-profile opponent of power morcellation, had stage IV cancer before her hysterectomy.

Capitol Hill

Senate Bill Gives FDA More Control Over Its Hiring, Salaries and Structure

The FDA and NIH Workforce Authorities Modernization Act was introduced in the Senate by Republican and Democratic leaders of the health committee. The bill aims to help FDA and NIH “attract top talent during this exciting time in science.”

The bill, introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), looks to improve coordination within and between FDA medical product centers and allow the FDA to update its structure, as well as make it easier for the agency to hire; improve access to scientific meetings for federal employees; and streamline processes for NIH research information collection.

Slamming the Door

Part VIII – A Conversation with DePinho

The $18 million never made it from Austin to Houston.

MD Anderson’s initial stance was to deflect all CPRIT-related questions to CPRIT, but this didn’t make the controversy go away. So, the cancer center suggested that the grant undergo scientific review, as well as commercial.

Recently, I asked Dan Fontaine, MD Anderson’s executive chief of staff why the money never changed hands.

Bunn Wins ASCO Karnofsky Award; Kaelin to Receive Science of Oncology Award

The American Society of Clinical Oncology announced the winners of its highest honors, the Special Awards, to be presented during the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in June.

“The exceptional accomplishments of each of our awardees reflect their exemplary dedication to furthering cancer research and serving as a beacon of hope to the cancer community,” said Peter Paul Yu, immediate past president of ASCO and chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee. “It is our honor to recognize their enduring contributions with ASCO’s most prestigious awards.”

Obituaries

UNMC Radiologist Glenn Dalrymple, 81;

and MSKCC Researcher Robert Golbey, 93

Glenn Dalrymple, a radiology professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center from 1990 to 1996, died March 9 in Omaha after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 81.

 

In Brief
  • Itai Yanai to Lead New Institute at NYU Langone

  • Debra Patt named Editor-in-Chief of JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics 

  • Jennie Crews elected president of Association of Community Cancer Centers

  • Charles Serhan receives Ross Prize from Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology publishes State of Cancer Care 2016

  • V Foundation and WWE announce research funding partnership 

  • Providence Health & Services and Institute for Systems Biology 

Drugs and Targets
  • Gilead Halts 6 Zydelig Trials As FDA, EMA Warn of Deaths From Respiratory Infections

  • FDA Grants Orphan Designation to VAL-083

  • FDA Grants Priority Review to Atezolizumab

 

20160311 - Mar 11, 2016
ISSUE 10 – MARCH 11, 2016PDF



CMS Experiment Targets Incentive To Use the Most Expensive Drug

Is Average Sales Price plus 6 percent the right amount to pay doctors under the Medicare Part B program?

Would a smaller margin diminish what may be an incentive for doctors to prescribe the most expensive drugs on the market? With clinical performance being equal, or close enough to equal, is it not better for the doctor’s wallet to bill 6 percent of the highest possible ASP available?

In a move that immediately set off an explosion in the cancer field, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule to test new models to improve Part B payment for prescription drugs.

 

Slamming the Door

Part VII: DePinho’s Stock Tip Revisited

On May 25, 2012, I received an email from Len Zwelling:

Paul: It can’t get worse than having our President pushing his own stock on TV. Len.

I clicked on the provided link to CNBC. What I saw was indeed difficult to process: a video of Ron DePinho, extolling the virtues of the stock of AVEO Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company he co-founded.

National Academy of Medicine Calls for Integrated FDA-CMS Pathway for Biomarker Tests

The National Academy of Medicine listed 10 goals for advancing the appropriate use of biomarker tests in precision medicine.

“How do we ensure patients have timely access to appropriate tests that may accurately direct targeted therapies, while at the same time protecting them from potential harm due to the adoption of poorly validated tests or inappropriately used tests?” the report asked, saying that broader implementation was being held back by a lack of consensus over evidentiary standards, inefficient and inconsistent regulatory and reimbursement approaches, the need for a framework for collecting patient data, and translating that data into improved patient outcomes.

Companies, Health Systems Commit to Data Interoperability

Companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records used by U.S. health care organizations have agreed to improve the flow of health information for consumers and health care providers, HHS officials said.

 

Study: California Hospitals with Low Volumes of Surgeries Associated with Higher Risks

In California, nearly 75 percent of the state’s hospitals performed only one or two surgeries when treating one of 11 selected cancer types in 2014, according to a report from the California Health Care Foundation.

The report linked the low hospital surgery volumes with higher rates of mortality and complications, while evaluating cancers of the bladder, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, rectum and stomach.

Obituary

UNMC Scientist Michael Brattain Dies Unexpectedly at Age 68

Michael Brattain, University of Nebraska Medical Center Eppley Institute professor and associate director for basic research in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, died unexpectedly in his sleep March 5. He was 68.

“Mike was a brilliant scientist who had a prolific scientific career,” said Kenneth Cowan, director of the Eppley Institute and the Buffett Cancer Center. “Mike’s experience and input was extremely valuable to me in many areas within the Buffett Cancer Center.

In Brief
  • Sadik Esener to lead OHSU Center for Early Detection Research

  • Jorge Lopez Jr. Named MSKCC General Counsel

  • Aron Parekh receives research grant from American Cancer Society
  • Robin Mjelle receives grant from Addario Foundation and International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

  • William Grady receives grant from DeGregario Family Foundation and the Price Family Foundation

  • Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Scott & White Health enter collaboration

  • Tufts Medical Center and New England Cancer Specialists form affiliation

  • UC San Francisco and Berkeley Lights Inc. form collaboration

Drugs and Targets
  • FDA Approves Xalkori in NSCLC with ROS-1 mutations

  • FDA Approves American College of Radiology Digital Mammography QC Manual

  • Regulatory Authorities in Six Countries approve Yondelis

  • China Food and Drug Administration Approves CINtec PLUS Cytology Test

  • Veritas Genetics introduces whole genome platform for under $1,000