20150417 - Apr 17, 2015
ISSUE 15 – APRIL 17, 2015PDF

Lowy: “We Need to Continually Look at the Distribution of Funds That We Allocate to the Areas of Investment”

Douglas Lowy became the NCI acting director April 1. On April 16, Lowy spoke with Paul Goldberg, editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter.

Paul Goldberg: Congratulations, first of all. How is the job treating you?

Douglas Lowy: Well, it is certainly a lot of work, but it’s an incredible opportunity—I have the opportunity of working with terrific people every day. I love it.

PG: Did you want this job?

DL: I never thought of myself as either becoming acting NCI director or the permanent NCI director, and it was not something I lobbied for.


MD Anderson Execs Get Big Raises In the Midst of Faculty Morale Woes

  

 

Two top administrators at MD Anderson Cancer Center, whose job responsibilities include maintaining harmony with the faculty, received substantial pay increases for having “excelled beyond expectation” and “effectively” directing the center’s clinical activities.

According to documents obtained by The Cancer Letter under the Texas Public Information Act, MD Anderson Provost Ethan Dmitrovsky and Physician-in-Chief Thomas Buchholz received $200,000 each in deferred compensation in 2015.

With incentive pay, supplemental annuity and deferred compensation included, the 2015 raise could boost Dmitrovsky’s total paycheck by as much as 22.9 percent compared to fiscal 2014. Buchholz’s compensation could increase by 31.4 percent.

Lawmakers Repeal Medicare SGR in Bipartisan Vote

President Barack Obama signed the Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act on April 14, permanently repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support: The House of Representatives voted 392 to 37 on April 2, and the Senate approved it with a 92 to 8 vote April 14.

In Brief

  • NCI renews Purdue’s designation as an NCI Basic Science Cancer Center

  • Joseph Gulfo named executive director of the Rothman Institute at Fairleigh Dickinson University

  • Don Gabriel joins United BioSource Corp.

  • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin opened its MACC Fund Center clinical and Northwestern Mutual Day Hospital

  • Roche acquires CAPP Medical

Drugs and Targets

  • Health Canada approves new indication for Xtandi

  • Bayer HealthCare expands global clinical development of copanlisib

  • Immunocore and MedImmune enter into second collaboration

20150410 - Apr 10, 2015
ISSUE 14 – APRIL 10, 2015PDF

MD Anderson Violated Academic Freedom, Governance, Tenure Standards, AAUP Says

MD Anderson Cancer Center President Ronald DePinho’s administration acted in disregard of academic standards and the institution’s internal faculty appointment policy, according to a 23-page final report published April 8 by the American Association of University Professors. 

 The report is the outcome of a yearlong feud between the cancer center and AAUP, which defends academic freedom and shared governance.


  

Congress Steps in to Examine FDA Device Regs As Insurers Restrict Coverage of Morcellation

Nearly a year and a half after a surgical tool routinely used by gynecologists disseminated her undiagnosed sarcoma, Amy Reed found herself back in the operating room—this time for removal of a second metastasis.

Reed’s leiomyosarcoma, which had been in remission after a massive surgery and post-morcellation chemotherapy, has spread to her lumbar vertebrae.

False Positive Mammograms, Overdiagnosis Cost $4 Billion

The costs of false-positive mammograms and breast cancer overdiagnoses add up to $4 billion a year, according to a paper in the April edition of the journal Health Affairs.

The issue contains a cluster of papers focusing on the cost and quality of cancer care.

Draft Guideline on Colorectal Cancer Biomarker Published

The American Society for Clinical Pathology, the College of American Pathologists, the Association for Molecular Pathology, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology released a draft of a clinical practice guideline on the use of molecular marker testing for patients with primary or metastatic colorectal carcinoma.

This evidence-based guideline will help establish standard molecular marker testing, guide targeted therapies, and advance personalized care for these patients.

In Brief

  • Karen Jensen joins Scripps Health as director of the oncology clinical care line

  • Chandini Portteus named president and CEO of LIVESTRONG Foundation 

  • Margaret Hamburg, former FDA commissioner, appointed foreign secretary of IOM

  • The NCCN Foundation awarded fifth series of Young Investigator Awards to six oncology researchers

  • Christina Coughlin named chief medical officer of Immunocore Ltd.

  • Gerrit Los named vice president of pharmacology at AnaptysBio Inc.

Drugs and Targets

  • Vectibix gets European approval for wild-type RAS colon cancer

  • Intrexon Corp. signs cooperative research and development agreement with NCI

  • Rubicon Genomics Inc. extends its clinical supply agreement with Agendia

  • Merck and Pfizer will begin co-promoting Xalkori in eight countries

20150403 - Apr 3, 2015
ISSUE 13 – APRIL 3, 2015PDF

Over 48 Hours, Power Shifts at NCI, ACS, Dana-Farber and MD Anderson

Over the first two days in April, massive leadership changes occurred at top institutions in cancer research:

• On April 1, the top job at NCI switched from Harold Varmus to Douglas Lowy, with the Lowy being formally named acting director.

• On April 1, Edward Benz announced his plans to leave presidency at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the institution’s board began the search for his successor.

• On April 2, the American Cancer Society announced that the job of CEO would go to former Johnson & Johnson executive Gary Reedy.

• On April 2, the UT System announced that Lynda Chin will be vacating her jobs as head of genomic medicine and scientific director of a research institute she co-founded. Chin, who is married to MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, came to Houston from Dana-Farber as a team in 2011.

Resolving Disputes in Precision Medicine: The Question of CYP2D6 Remains Open

What does it take to declare that a scientific dispute is resolved? 

A long-running argument over the role of a biomarker in the treatment of breast cancer illustrates a challenge that runs through the heart of precision medicine: the absence of mechanisms for resolving disagreements between scientists.

The story of CYP2D6, a mutation that may (or may not) predict the manner in which the patient metabolizes the cheap, widely used drug tamoxifen, is of the sort that makes insiders shake their heads.

The question is relevant to an estimated 150,000 newly diagnosed estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients a year in the U.S. alone.

A Biomarker Court? Who Should Decide?

Answers from: Carmen Allegra, Lisa McShane, Robert Cook-Deegan, Barnett Kramer, Frances Visco, and FDA

No pharma company is clamoring to get a response to the question of significance of CYP2D6. 

Since an estimated 7 percent of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are poor metabolizers of tamoxifen, perhaps as many as 93 percent are good candidates for receiving this cheap generic drug. 

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory And North Shore-LIJ to Form $120 Million Collaboration

Two New York institutions—Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the North Shore-LIJ Health System—announced a $120 million cancer research collaboration on April 2.

The collaboration aims to develop a clinical cancer research unit at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute’s headquarters in Lake Success, N.Y., support early-phase clinical studies, and recruit and train clinician-scientists.

North Shore-LIJ and CSHL will continue as independent organizations governed by their respective boards of trustees. The sources of funds for the collaboration were not disclosed.

In Brief

  • Lewis Cantley to Deliver Takamatsu Lecture at AACR Annual Meeting

  • Lucille Adams-Campbell to Deliver Minorities in Cancer Research Lecture at AACR Annual Meeting

  • Robert Gentleman appointed vice president of computational biology at 23andMe Inc.

  • Aleksandar Zafirovski named associate director for administration for Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University

  • Scripps Clinic Medical Group acquires three radiation oncology services

  • Aeterna Zentaris to transfer library of 100,000 compounds to center at Medical University of South Carolina

  • GlaxoSmithKline to establish third global center for vaccine research in Rockville, Md.

Drugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Jadenu, an oral formulation of Exjade

  • FDA grants priority review to Kyprolis

  • FDA updates label for Zytiga plus prednisone in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center and Astellas Pharma Inc. sign option agreement for AML research

  • Eli Lilly and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals to evaluate combination of demcizumab and Alimta

  • Merck and Syndax Pharmaceuticals to evaluate combination of Keytruda and entinostat

  • Intrexon Corporation and Merck Serono to collaborate on CAR-T cancer therapies