20150619 - Jun 19, 2015
ISSUE 24 – JUNE 19, 2015PDF

Are Cancer Drugs Worth the Money?
MSKCC Tool Tests Pricing Rationale

A health services researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has proposed a method for assessing whether cancer drugs are rationally priced.

Peter Bach, director of the MSKCC Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, constructed DrugAbacus, a tool for analyzing the value of the new generation of cancer drugs.



House Spending Bill to Eliminate AHRQ While Adding $1.1 Billion to NIH Budget

A $153 billion spending bill that cleared a House subcommittee June 17 seeks to abolish the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the federal entity that funds patient-centered outcomes research and monitors the manner in which medicine is practiced in the U.S.

At the same time, the bill proposes increasing the NIH budget to $31.2 billion, a $1.1 billion above this year’s level and $100 million more than the White House requested.

AAUP Censures MD Anderson

MD Anderson Cancer Center has been censured by the American Association of University Professors, an organization that defends academic freedom and shared governance.

The decision was made at AAUP’s annual meeting, which concluded June 13 in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1915, AAUP has 47,000 individual members and 300 chapters.

Congress Reintroduces Bill to Limit Out-of-Pocket Costs for Oral Anticancer Drugs

House and Senate sponsors have reintroduced the Cancer Treatment Parity Act, a bill that would require insurers to provide coverage for oral anticancer drugs on terms no less favorable than coverage for intravenous chemotherapy.

Previously introduced in 2011 and 2013, the 2015 version would reduce out-of-pocket costs for oral chemotherapy, but would not mandate coverage of oral medications.

    CPRIT Reaches Milestone in Providing 2 Million Cancer Prevention Services to Texans

    The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has provided more than 2 million cancer prevention services to Texans across all 254 counties in the state, the institute announced June 16.

    Prevention measures funded by CPRIT grants include tobacco cessation programs, vaccinations, screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, genetic testing and counseling, and survivor care.

      In Brief

      • John Sampson named chair of Duke Department of Neurosurgery

      • John Zaia named director of City of Hope’s Center for Gene Therapy

      • AHRQ to fund three centers of excellence with $52 million over five years

      • Eli Lilly & Co. announces collaborations with Dana-Farber and Sarah Cannon Research Institute

       Drugs and Targets

      • Gardasil 9 receives marketing authorization from European Commission

      • FDA approves Ventana ALK (D5F3) CDx companion diagnostic assay for Xalkori

      20150613 - Jun 13, 2015
      SPECIAL REPORT – JUNE 13, 2015 

      AAUP Places MD Anderson on Censure List

      MD Anderson Cancer Center has been censured by the American Association of University Professors, an organization that defends academic freedom and shared governance.

      The decision was made at AAUP’s Annual Meeting, which concluded June 13 in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1915, AAUP has 47,000 individual members and 300 chapters.

      Several hundred AAUP members unanimously voted to censure Ronald DePinho’s administration, said Gregory Scholtz, AAUP associate secretary and director of the Department of Academic Freedom.

      “There was no debate,” Scholtz said to The Cancer Letter.

      20150612 - Jun 12, 2015
      ISSUE 23 – JUNE 12, 2015PDF

      NCI Frederick Laboratory’s $400 Million Per Year Contract Up for Re-Competition

      NCI is opening up its contract for operations and technical support at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research for re-competition—a process that officials said will take up to two years.

      The institute is broadening the statement of work for the contract to maximize new opportunities in cancer research, which involves fostering interactions with academia. Bidders can include universities, consortia of universities, other nonprofit institutions and for-profit companies.

      The contract, which was awarded in 2008, is scheduled to end in September 2018. Leidos Biomedical Research Inc. received $400.2 million to run the lab in fiscal 2014. It is not publicly known how much NCI is budgeting for the 2018 contract.

        21st Century Cures Heads for House Floor Vote

        The 21st Century Cures Act cleared the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and is heading for floor vote.

        The legislation, H.R. 6, is designed to expedite drug development, modernize clinical trials, and accelerate approval of drugs and medical devices. Capitol Hill insiders say the floor vote may occur within two weeks.

        Guest Commentary

        Obamacare was Undermined from the Outset

        By Leonard Zwelling

        Could the Supreme Court functionally end Obamacare before the end of June?

        It could if the court determines that subsidies paid to those individuals eligible for the payments who gained health insurance on the federal exchanges are inconsistent with the Affordable Care Act as written.

        Pediatrician Charged With Child Porn Possession Resigns From MD Anderson

        A pediatric oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center is facing federal charges of one count of receiving and possessing child pornography.

        Dennis Hughes, an associate professor of pediatrics, was arrested at his home June 5 after the Federal Bureau of Investigation found a thumb drive containing 8,200 downloaded files, the majority of which appeared to contain child pornography.

          In Brief

          • Karen Knudsen named director of Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University

          • Roberto Pili joins IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

          • Mary Beckerle appointed to board of Johnson & Johnson

          • Pew Charitable Trusts name 27 biomedical research scholars

          • The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network publishes study on molecular classification of diffuse gliomas

          • AACR and Bayer partner to expand research fellowship program

          • Scripps Mercy O’Toole Breast Care Center opens in San Diego

          • ASCO Publishes Practical Tips for Oncology Practice 

          • Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation and Smart Patients launch DATABLUE

          • The Cancer Letter receives first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its coverage of power morcellation

           Drugs and Targets

          • Lenvatinib launches in U.K. for advanced thyroid cancer

          • Keytruda authorized for sale by Health Canada

          • FDA grants orphan designation to APTO-253

          • Janssen initiates rolling submission for daratumumab in multiple myeloma

          • MD Anderson and Nektar Therapeutics announce collaboration