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

      20150717 - Jul 17, 2015
      ISSUE 27 – JULY 17, 2015PDF

      MD Anderson Faculty White Paper Calls for Executive Pay Freeze, Elimination of “Two-Class System”


      MD Anderson Cancer Center’s faculty has asked the UT System to freeze the salaries of Ronald DePinho and members of his executive team until they reach a level of parity with faculty salaries, according to a white paper presented to UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven June 14.

      The white paper—authored by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and distributed confidentially to the faculty July 10—is arguably the most comprehensive representation of the faculty’s cumulative dissatisfaction with DePinho and his administration’s performance and handling of personnel matters over the past three years.


      Iressa Returns to U.S. Market— Now with Companion Diagnostic

      FDA approved Iressa (gefitinib) for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors have epidermal growth factor receptor exon 19 deletions or exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations as detected by an FDA-approved test.

      The drug is being approved concurrently with the therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit as a companion diagnostic.

        NCCS: Covering End-of-Life Planning is a Step Toward Delivering Patient-Centered Care

        Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced plans to support Medicare beneficiaries by reimbursing doctors for advance care planning beginning in January 2016.

        The proposed codes would reimburse for discussions about an individual’s wishes, should he or she becomes too ill to make decisions, and for the completion of an advance directive.

        Funding Opportunity

        DoD Taking Applications for $75,000 Horizon Grant

        The Department of Defense is taking applications for its Horizon Award, which offers up to $75,000 in funding to support junior-level scientists to conduct impactful research with the mentorship of an experienced cancer researcher.

        The award is for principal investigators, both pre-doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows are eligible, and mentors that have a strong record of funding and publications. The PI and mentor must be from the same organization.

           In Brief

          • Georgetown Lombardi and John Theurer Cancer Center to form research consortium

          • City of Hope establishes professorship with $1.5 million grant

          • Maryann Roefaro named co-chair of COA administrator network

          • Synexus opens three clinical trial research centers in Eastern Europe

          • ACT for NIH appoints seven members to its advisory committee

          Drugs and Targets

          • EU approves Imbruvica in Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia

          • FDA grants orphan drug designation to ImMucin in multiple myeloma

          • Cleave Biosciences’s CB-5083 receives FDA orphan drug designation

          • FDA grants fast track designation to Toca 511 and Toca FC

          • FDA grants priority review to MM-398 in pancreatic cancer

          • Eli Lilly and Immunocore launch clinical trial collaboration