20160527 - May 27, 2016
ISSUE 21 – May 27, 2016PDF

Slamming the Door – Part XIII

Chair of CPRIT Oversight Committee:

“Better to Get Them All Out of the Way Now”

What were Texas politicians and CPRIT officials thinking as they were pounded by blistering letters of resignation?

Condemnation seemed to be rolling off their backs as they marched toward what they thought was their great triumph.

Jimmy Mansour, chairman of CPRIT’s oversight committee, mistakenly hit Reply All, sending an especially contemptuous email to a scientist who was announcing his resignation from CPRIT. In the email that came into public view because of his sloppiness, Mansour, a telecommunications entrepreneur, belittles scientists and the peer review process.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Candace Johnson: A New Vision for Roswell Park

Since Candace Johnson’s appointment as president and CEO of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in February 2015, the institute has recruited 22 new faculty members and promoted 19 faculty members into senior leadership positions.

“I’m a new leader. I have a new style, a new vision of where Roswell Park is going,” Johnson, the Wallace Family Chair in Translational Research, said to The Cancer Letter. “We have new and different challenges, and unless my entire workforce understood these challenges and embraced the changes I’ve been implementing, we wouldn’t have a chance.”

ASCO Cervical Cancer Guideline Addresses Global Disparities

The American Society of Clinical Oncology issued its first clinical practice guideline for invasive cervical cancer.

The guideline provides evidence-based recommendations for four tiers based on available resources for cervical cancer screening and treatment: basic, limited, enhanced and maximal. For each setting, and for each stage of cervical cancer, the guideline recommends optimal therapy and palliative care. The guideline was published in the Journal of Global Oncology and was endorsed by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

Survey: 28 Percent of Doctors See Clinical Trials as Last Resort

Only 40 percent of Americans have a positive overall impression of clinical trials, according to a national survey conducted for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The survey, which polled over 2,100 people including nearly 600 physicians, found that 28 percent of doctors considered clinical trials as treatments of last resort.

In Brief
  • Northwestern to host 5k coinciding with ASCO’s annual meeting in Chicago
  • The Canadian Cancer Society and Merck to collaborate on New Horizons project

  • American Skin Association presents annual awards

  • Margaret Foti honored by Ovarcome foundation

  • Seattle Children’s and Juno Therapeutics to collaborate on T-cell immunotherapies

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hunter Douglas establish graduate fellowship

  • University of Chicago and Blue Cross and Blue Shield launch oncology medical home

  • Lightpoint Medical signs agreement for Beta Emission Tomography technology from University of Arizona researchers

Drugs and Targets
  • CHMP issues positive opinion for Kyprolis in multiple myeloma

  • ProNAi Therapeutics and Carna Biosciences to commercialize AS-141


20160520 - May 20, 2016
ISSUE 20 – May 20, 2016PDF

NCI Identifies Moonshot Priorities

NCI is working to provide five to ten recommendations for Vice President Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot program, officials said at a recent advisory committee meeting.

At a meeting of the Frederick National Laboratory Advisory Committee May 11, top NCI officials described the mechanisms that will be used to provide recommendations for spending new money that may be directed at cancer research.

The institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel—consisting of 28 members representing academia, government, industry and patient advocates—has assembled seven working groups.

Guest Editorial

Nancy Davidson: Capturing the Moonshot’s Momentum

Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative has touched off an unprecedented national and international dialogue about cancer.

My presidential year at the American Association for Cancer Research brings the special opportunity to ensure that this momentum is captured and fully utilized to position cancer research as the key to saving more lives from cancer.

The AACR has been and continues to be a trusted adviser to the vice president on this important initiative.

Capitol Hill

House Committee Provides Forum for Opponents of Part B Payment Model

A Congressional committee earlier this week provided a venue for opponents of a controversial Medicare Part B payment model to argue against its implementation by Centers for Medicaid Services.

Witnesses at the May 17 hearing of the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce said the payment model would make it difficult for Medicare patients to obtain care, and one witness likened the model to an unethical clinical trial. Also, in what couldn’t be a coincidence, two witnesses—representing patients with immune deficiencies and rheumatology—submitted written testimony that contained identical paragraphs.

In Brief
  • James Brink elected chair of American College of Radiology
  • Michael Kaplan named president and CEO of Melanoma Research Alliance

  • Hong-yu Li named Arkansas Research Alliance Scholar and endowed chair

  • CPRIT awards 35 grants totaling $79.2 million

  • Senate marks up FDA tobacco regulation appropriations

Drugs and Targets
  • FDA grants accelerated approvals to Tecentriq and Opdivo

  • FDA warns doctors about counterfeit BiCNU


20160513 - May 13, 2016
ISSUE 19 – May 13, 2016PDF

art 42-19 showdown

CMS Drug Payment Experiment Heads Toward Showdown on Capitol Hill

A demonstration project in which the Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services hopes to investigate the impact of reimbursement based on Average Sales Prices of drugs is running into strong opposition, as a large number of cancer groups submitted public comments urging the agency to abandon the endeavor.

The agency’s stated goal for tweaking the ASP-based reimbursement formula is to learn whether it gives physicians the incentive to prescribe the most expensive treatments available.

Opponents—including oncology professional groups and pharmaceutical companies—say that experimentation with ASP-based reimbursement, which is currently set at ASP plus 4.3 percent, will make it economically unfeasible for oncology practices to treat Medicare patients.

Agus: $200 Million Interdisciplinary Institute to Focus on Data Modeling

A few years ago, at dinner with technology entrepreneur Larry Ellison, David Agus, director of the University of Southern California Center for Applied Molecular Medicine, mentioned his dream of opening an interdisciplinary cancer center.

“I said, it really would be an amazing thing if we could start to get people in one place and have residences, so the greatest physicists, mathematicians, engineers can actually come in and live there and be engrossed in cancer,” said Agus, professor at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

““Well, how much would it be to kind of put together such a building and program?” Ellison, Oracle Corporation’s chairman of the board and chief technology officer, said to Agus at the time.

“You know, about $200 million,” Agus said.

“Done,” Ellison responded.

Slamming the Door

Part XII: Scientists Vote with Their Feet

In their op-ed piece, Gilman and Sharp stated what it would take to fix CPRIT’s problems. That was the polite version of the Gilman Plan.

The spoken version was more blunt: get rid of the “assholes” on the oversight board, jettison the administrators, then—maybe—CPRIT’s credibility would be restored.

NIH Makes Sweeping Changes in Clinical Center Governance

The NIH Clinical Center will be placed under a new system of governance, similar to that of hospitals.

Replacing Director John Gallin and the current management structure, NIH has begun “the process of changing the leadership structure of the Clinical Center to model those of world class hospitals in the United States,” institute officials said in a statement.

ACS Report Assesses Progress in 25-Year Goal Against Mortality

The American Cancer Society published a report assessing the progress made in its 25-year goal to reduce cancer death rates by 50 percent. The report finds areas where progress was substantial, and others where it was not.

The report, appearing in the ACS journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, said the best improvements were seen in cancers for which prevention, early detection, and treatment tools are available, including cancers of the lung, colon, breast, and prostate.

In Brief
  • Brigham Does Not Contest Plaintiffs’ Offers of Proof as Morcellation Cases Proceed
  • American Urological Association presents 2016 awards at annual meeting
  • Tom Andrus named chief digital officer at Prostate Cancer Foundation
  • Stand Up to Cancer and Boston College publish nursing training modules in immunotherapy
  • CancerCare publishes report on patient access and engagement
  • Cancer Support Community Benjamin Center presents awards
  • City of Hope receives $2.3 million R01 grant from NCI
  • BioDelivery Sciences International and Collegium Pharmaceutical form collaboration
  • Thomas Jefferson University joins TriNetX research network
  • UCLA and Leica Biosystems to collaborate in digital pathology
  • St. Jude raises $4 million in campaign Univision
  • PhRMA members invested $58.8 billion in R&D in 2015
Drugs and Targets
  • FDA expands Imbruvica label to include CLL and SLL
  • Health Canada approves Imbruvica in Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia
  • Health Canada grants conditional approval to Ibrance in breast cancer