20151106 - Nov 6, 2015
ISSUE 41 – NOV. 6, 2015PDF

DeVita: 50 Years of Stories

On Cancer Wars and Skirmishes


Vincent T. DeVita Jr. has seen the cancer field as a confident young doc eager to challenge the system, as a general in the War on Cancer, as an academic oncologist and, most recently, as a patient.

“I’ve been in a unique position. Partly, the War on Cancer happened because of what we were doing. I watched it grow, and then I ran it at the NCI. And then I came out of the NCI and I watched it from a private cancer center and a university cancer center,” said DeVita, co-author, with his daughter, Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, of The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable—and How We Can Get There, a just-published memoir.

“There are very few people who have been in that position. But I felt I owed it to the field to give a description of how I saw it, from the beginning to watching it from the outside—watching the field go through some very exciting times.”


Book Review

DeVita’s History of Oncology

Told with Candor and Optimism

By Otis W. Brawley

“The Emperor of All Maladies” was a history of oncology, and a good one. “The Death of Cancer” is a memoir of one of the greats of medical oncology. It is a history from someone who was there, making history.

In scientific terms, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book has the limitations of a retrospective study; Vince DeVita’s book is more like a prospective clinical trial.

I trained at the NCI in the 1980’s. I openly admit that Otis Brawley the medical oncology fellow was intimidated by the mere mention of “Dr. DeVita.”

    Judge Rebukes Brigham for Placing
    Morcellation Critic Under Guard
    While His Wife Underwent Surgery

    A Boston judge ruled Nov. 3 that Brigham & Women’s Hospital had violated the First Amendment rights of a couple who led an aggressive national campaign to stop power morcellation, a surgical procedure routinely used by gynecologists.

      NCI Funds Eight SPORE Grants

      NCI awarded eight new, competing and renewed grants as part of its funding for its Specialized Programs of Research Excellence. The grantees will receive $2,185,000 per year for five years.


        Funding Opportunity

        NCI Taking Applications for Research Specialist Award

        NCI is taking applications for its Research Specialist Award, which is designed to encourage the development of stable research career opportunities for scientists who want to pursue research within the context of an existing cancer research program, but not serve as independent investigators.

          In Brief

          • Edith Perez steps down as vice chair of Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology; named VP for Genentech and Roche

          • Stand Up To Cancer, Cancer Research UK and Lustgarten Foundation form pancreatic cancer dream team

          • NCI names 11 winners of its Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Awards

          • AACR launches international genomic data sharing project

          • CancerCare announces co-payment assistance for pancreatic cancer patients

          • SRI International awarded contract for NCI PREVENT program
          Drugs and Targets

          • TCGA Researchers identify seven subtypes of prostate cancer; two drivers of renal cell carcinoma

          • FDA grants Breakthrough Therapy designation to pexidartinib

          • MD Anderson and CytomX launch collaboration

          20151103_10 - Nov 3, 2015
          SPECIAL REPORT – NOV. 3, 2015 

          Judge Rebukes Brigham for Placing Morcellation Critic Under Guard While His Wife Was in Surgery

          A Boston judge ruled Nov. 3 that Brigham & Women’s Hospital had violated the First Amendment rights of a couple who led an aggressive national campaign to stop power morcellation, a surgical procedure routinely used by gynecologists.

          Earlier this week, Brigham provided care to Amy Reed, who needed an emergency surgery for a cancer recurrence. However, her husband, Hooman Noorchashm, had to submit to being searched and accompanied by a security guard.

          Both Reed and Noorchashm are physicians. She is an anesthesiologist who was formerly employed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and he is a cardiothoracic surgeon who had practiced at Brigham.

          20151030 - Oct 30, 2015
          ISSUE 40 – OCT. 30, 2015PDF

          How Much is a Drug Worth?

          A Provocative Model Puts a Price on Benefit


          Eli Lilly & Co. didn’t ask Dan Goldstein, an oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, to price their drugs, but he volunteered his services anyway.

          Indeed, Lilly Oncology is unlikely in the extreme to concur with the price he proposed for necitumumab, a front-line treatment for locally advanced or metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

          Necitumumab, which at this writing is awaiting FDA approval, would be used in combination with a doublet treatment of gemcitabine and cisplatin. This Biologics License Application is all the more important because the treatment of squamous NSCLC hasn’t changed in over 15 years.

          Conversation with The Cancer Letter

          Lilly’s PACE Continuous Innovation Indicators

          Visualize Progress and Value in Research

          Lilly Oncology has launched a novel value assessment tool that aggregates 40 years of oncology data to measure progress and identify unmet needs in cancer treatments.

          The tool, called PACE Continuous Innovation Indicators, or PACE CII, is an effort to visualize progress in cancer treatments with the flexibility to accommodate different cancer subtypes.

          PACE CII, launched earlier this year, contains data on 12 solid tumors: namely cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, and prostate, as well as melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, gastric cancer, renal cancer, testicular cancer and endometrial cancer.

            Capitol Hill

            Budget Deal Eases Sequestration,

            Includes Medicare Site Neutrality

            Congress passed a two-year budget deal that would raise government spending as well as the debt ceiling.

            The bill includes an $80 billion total budget increase, divided evenly between non-military and military programs, and raises the previous caps set by sequestration. The bill also suspends the debt limit until March 2017.

              A Third of Hospitals Will Drop Out of 340B if HRSA Enacts New Guidance, Survey Finds

              Hospitals serving large populations of low-income patients stand to lose up to seven figures a year in drug discounts if proposed regulatory changes to the 340B program are enacted, the program’s supporters say.

              The Health Resources and Services Administration issued a sweeping guidance that would provide stricter definitions for which patients and entities should be covered.

                In Brief

                • Kathy Helzlsouer named chief medical officer and associate director of NCI DCCPS

                • Thomas Graves and Jeanny Aragon-Ching join Inova cancer institute

                • Friends of Cancer Research honors Marlene Malek, Reps. Diana DeGette and Fred Upton

                • MD Anderson Cancer Center expands Moon Shots Program

                • CureSearch for Children’s Cancer awards $260,000 in grants

                Drugs and Targets

                • Amgen’s Imlygic approved as first U.S. oncolytic viral cancer therapy

                • Imbruvica wins 2015 Prix Galien Award

                • FDA grants priority review to MCNA in certain bladder cancer patients