20150807 - Aug 7, 2015
ISSUE 31 – AUG. 7, 2015PDF

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

AstraZeneca Exec Discusses Iressa’s Future in the U.S.

 

After a decade of near-absence from the U.S. market, the AstraZeneca drug Iressa (gefitinib) is back.

The drug, which stayed on the market between 2003 and 2005, when it was pulled because clinical trials in a general population of patients failed to demonstrate a survival advantage, has returned. Now it is accompanied by a diagnostic tests that selects patients.

The Cancer Letter asked Andrew Coop, vice president of US medical affairs in oncology at AstraZeneca, to discuss the company’s plans for the future of Iressa in the US, and lessons that have been learned.

 

Report: Part D Drug Prices “Needlessly High”

Medicare’s Part D program paid significantly higher prices for drugs than either Medicaid or the Veterans Health Administration, a study by Carleton University and Public Citizen found.

Prices paid by Medicare Part D were also above those in 30 other countries.

The price is caused by congressional restrictions on the federal government’s ability to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry, the study said.

Obituary

Carolyn Kaelin, 54, Dana-Farber Surgical Oncologist and Researcher

Carolyn Mary Kaelin, a surgical oncologist in the Women’s Cancers Program at Dana-Farber and director of the Breast Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, died July 28, surrounded by loved ones. Kaelin was 54.

FDA News

In Brief

  • Lehigh Valley Health Network joins MSK Cancer Alliance

  • Siteman Cancer Center receives “exceptional” rating from NCI
  • John Cunningham named chairman of pediatrics department at the University of Chicago

  • Jinhgui Zhang named first chair of Department of Computational Biology at St. Jude
  • Stephen Lessnick named director of childhood cancer center at Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

  • GI Chair Lopa Mishra to leave MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society receives donation from Bristol Myers Squibb

  • Commission on Cancer names Outstanding Achievement Award winners

  • California Dept. of Public Health launches big data collaboration with St. Joseph’s Health

  • Pan-Mass Challenge raises $33.5 million over weekend bike ride for Dana-Farber

 Drugs and Targets

  • Health Canada approves Imbruvica in MCL

  • EMA grants orphan designation to synthetic hypericin
  • AstraZeneca and Heptares Therapeutics enter licensing agreement

  • Mirati Therapeutics and MedImmune launch clinical trial collaboration
 

The Cancer Letter will be taking a short publication break, and will return Friday, Sept. 4.

20150730 - Jul 30, 2015
ISSUE 30 – JULY 31, 2015PDF

Pharma Industry Critics

Seek Grassroots Support

 

Many people are studying the rising prices of cancer drugs. A growing group of oncologists want to do something different: they want to give them a downward push.

Last week, a group of 118 oncologists signed an editorial published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in which they laid out seven specific actions that they argue would moderate drug prices.

 

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

The War on Cancer (Drug Prices): Political Education of Hagop Kantarjian

Here is what Hagop Kantarjian has learned over the past two years of his campaign to lower the prices of cancer drugs:

People would rather avoid disputing you head-on.

Instead, they seek to draw you into a process. And as this process drags on, things remain as they are.

Kantarjian, chair of the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center, is too savvy and too impatient to get sucked into chasing elusive solutions.

Baylor Earns Comprehensive Designation;

Tisch Institute Becomes NCI Cancer Center

The Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine and the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai received NCI designations this week.

The Duncan Cancer Center—which was named an NCI-designated cancer center in 2007—was awarded the Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, which includes a $14.56 million, five-year grant. 

Guest Editorial

Kids v Cancer: Laws Need to Catch up to the Science

By Nancy Goodman

Kids with cancer are the last, not the first, to get on trials of promising new drugs. And, when drug companies abandon their unapproved cancer drugs, as they do 95 percent of the time for all sorts of reasons, the chance to study those drugs for kids with cancer goes away forever.

Drugs and Targets

Lenvima Receives FDA Breakthrough Designation

In Brief

  • Thomas Lynch Jr. to step down as director of Yale Cancer Center

  • Peter Schulam to serve as interim center director
  • Karen Reckamp named medical director for clinical research at City of Hope

  • Timothy Lash named leader of cancer prevention program at Winship Institute
  • Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Centre for Drug Research and Development announces call for pre-proposals for early-stage research

20150724 - Jul 24, 2015
ISSUE 29 – JULY 24, 2015PDF

MD Anderson No. 1 (Again)

In Rankings by U.S. News & World Report

 

MD Anderson Cancer Center has once again assumed its place at the top of the influential U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2015-2016.
The Houston-based center edged out New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

As MD Anderson returns to the paramount position it has held 11 times over the past 14 years, it does so despite turmoil between its faculty and administration (The Cancer Letter, July 13).

 

 

FDA & NCI Create Unique Jobs Combining Regulatory Science with Clinical Expertise

NCI and FDA are recruiting three medical oncologists who would divide their time between clinical and regulatory duties—half at the FDA Office of Oncology and Hematology Products, and half at the NCI Center for Cancer Research.

These clinician-scientists would serve as associate directors for clinical research at the OHOP, and as independent, tenure-track principal investigators at the CCR.

    In Brief

    • Charles Roberts named director of St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center

    • Eric Rohren named chair of radiology at Baylor College of Medicine

    • Carrie Kitko joins Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
    • Bruce Quinn joins FaegreBD Consulting

    • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia opens Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care

    Odomzo Approved in Basal Cell Carcinoma

    FDA approved Odomzo (sonidegib) capsules for the treatment of patients with locally advanced basal cell carcinoma that has recurred following surgery or radiation therapy, or those who are not candidates for surgery or radiation therapy. Odomzo is marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.

     

    Kyprolis Combination Approved in Relapsed Multiple Myeloma

    FDA approved Kyprolis (carfilzomib) in combination with lenalidomide and dexamethasone for the treatment of patients with relapsed multiple myeloma who have received one to three prior lines of therapy. Kyprolis is sponsored by Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., an Amgen subsidiary.

       Drugs and Targets

      • FDA grants orphan drug designation to Anisina in neuroblastoma

      • Amgen submits sNDA for Kyprolis for Injection

      • IriSys awarded five-year contact by NCI