20150515 - May 15, 2015
ISSUE 19 – MAY 15, 2015PDF

Fisher Discusses Turnaround at Fox Chase

A year ago, Fox Chase Cancer Center lost money: $17 million.

In 2015, the losses have stopped and an $8 million operating profit is projected. Fox Chase is part of the Temple University Health System, which is rebuilding its cancer services around the venerable center.

“We’re in an interesting time at Fox Chase—because as I look ahead to the future of health care and accountable care coming, I think it’s unlikely if many, if any, of the freestanding cancer centers will be able to stand by themselves in that kind of arrangement,” Fisher said to The Cancer Letter. “So right now, we’re a fascinating model that’s going to be looked at by our colleagues to see how it works.”

21st Century Cures Passes House Subcommittee

The 21st Century Cures bill—a bipartisan initiative aimed at streamlining development of drugs and medical devices—received unanimous approval May 14 from the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Congressional leaders expect a full committee markup next week, and a floor vote in June.

Guest Editorial

AACR: 21st Century Cures a “Model for an Open and Honest Conversation”

By José Baselga and William S. Dalton

Almost one year ago (on April 30, 2014), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), along with Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) announced the launch of 21st Century Cures, an initiative aimed at accelerating the pace of cures and medical breakthroughs in the United States by ensuring that our laws are keeping pace with innovation.


    ASCO Annual Meeting 2015

    Highlights of Selected Studies

    The American Society of Clinical Oncology announced results from four major studies May 13, which will be presented at the society’s 51st Annual Meeting, May 29 to June 2, in Chicago.


    Study: Discrepancy in Definition of “Value” in Cancer Care

    The “value” of cancer care may be interpreted differently among health care stakeholders, according to a study by the Cancer Support Community, an international nonprofit.

    The study, “Defining Value in Oncology: Perspectives from Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer,” asked 769 patients to define value, based on their cancer experience.


    Report: Global Cancer Spending Reaches $100 Billion Mark

    Global spending on oncology drugs in 2014 reached $100 billion, up 10.3 percent over 2013 and up from $75 billion in 2010, according to the 2015 Global Oncology Trend Report, published by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The annual compound growth rate increased to 6.5 percent over the past five years.

    The study, “Developments in Cancer Treatments, Market Dynamics, Patient Access and Value,” found that the U.S. and the five largest European nations continue to spend the most in oncology, making up two-thirds of the total international market.

    In Brief

    • Sotomayor named first director of GW Cancer Center

    • Lisa Kachnic named chair of department of radiation oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

    • MD Anderson makes several changes in executive leadership

    • Michael Simon wins award from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation 
    • Eric Liu to join Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers
    • Maryland Proton Therapy Center completes funding
    Drugs and Targets

    • FDA grants fast track designation to evofosfamide

    • Eli Lilly and Company and BioNTech AG launch research collaboration

    • FDA approves cobas KRAS mutation test

    20150508 - May 8, 2015
    ISSUE 18 – MAY 8, 2015PDF

    Nascent Group Points to a Way To Validate, Pay for Genomic Tests

    How is this for a plan:

    Replace the U.S. system for validation and payment for cancer genomic tests with something that actually makes sense.

    Dane Dickson, a doctor in Idaho, who until recently had the distinction of being the only oncologist working under the roof of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, would like to do just that—and some important players in cancer research are betting on his success.

    Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    A Doctor’s Quest to Save Personalized Medicine

    Dane Dickson would like to change the U.S. system for validation and coverage of molecular tests, thereby opening the road to development of complex tests and comprehensive genomic assays.

    Recently, Dickson formed a nonprofit public-private partnership, called MED-C and published a white paper, which is posted here.

    In an interview with Paul Goldberg, editor and publisher of The Cancer Letter, Dickson described his rationale for trying a new approach to solving this fundamental problem in personalized medicine.

    Duke Settles with Potti’s Patients; Misconduct Probe Now in Fifth Year

    Duke University has settled the suits filed by patients who were enrolled in clinical trials that were testing the technology developed by Anil Potti and his mentor Joseph Nevins.

    By settling, Duke avoided having to confront embarrassing revelations about how much the university’s deans knew about the problems in the genomic research organization.


    Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Gunsalus: Duke’s 4.5 Years is at Extreme End of Spectrum for a Misconduct Probe

    The Cancer Letter invited C. K. Gunsalus, an expert on scientific misconduct, to discuss the settlement of the lawsuits against Duke.

    Gunsalus is the director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, research professor, Coordinated Science Laboratory, professor emerita, College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She runs a consulting company and is the author of The Young Professional’s Survival Guide (Harvard University Press, 2012) and The College Administrator’s Survival Guide (Harvard University Press, 2006).

    In Brief

    • Dan Theodorescu and Seth Lerner named editors-in-chief of Bladder Cancer

    • UW Health, ProHealth Care, and Aurora Health Care agree to co-manage cancer center

    • GW Cancer Institute launches online patient navigation training

    • NIH raises nearly $700,000 for The Children’s Inn
    • Proton Partners selects companies to help supply U.K. proton beam centers
    • Moffitt Cancer Center and Aetna form oncology medical home model
    • Swedish Cancer Institute adopts Syapse software for its precision medicine program
    Drugs and Targets

    • FDA grants breakthrough designation to Venetoclax

    • DanDrit Biotech USA forms collaboration with GISCAD Foundation

    • PhRMA report says member companies invested $51.2 billion in R&D

    20150501 - May 1, 2015
    ISSUE 17 – MAY 1, 2015PDF

    Thumbs Up on Amgen’s T-VEC to Treat Melanoma; Is it Local Therapy for Systemic Disease?

    An FDA advisory committee April 29 recommended approval of a metastatic melanoma treatment based on an attenuated Herpes Simplex Virus-1.

    In a joint meeting, the agency’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee and its Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee voted 22 to 1 to recommend full approval for talimogene laherparepvec, sponsored by Amgen Inc.

    At the contentious all-day meeting, which ran twice as long as a standard session of ODAC, the unusually large group of advisors summoned by the FDA didn’t get the opportunity to clearly identify the group of patients who stand to benefit from the agent, also called T-VEC, or specify the agent’s place in a sequence of melanoma treatments.

    NIH Slated to Receive $10 Billion Increase In Second 21st Century Cures Draft Bill

    The House Committee on Energy and Commerce published the second “discussion draft” for a comprehensive bipartisan initiative aimed at streamlining development of drugs and medical devices.

    The proposed legislation, called “21st Century Cures,” was launched April 30, 2014, and is led by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee, and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chief deputy whip.

    In addition to boosting NIH funding by $10 billion over five years and establishing a clinical trial data system for federally funded trials, the discussion draft includes provisions for developing the next line of antibiotics.

    Institute of Medicine to Become National Academy of Medicine

    The membership of the National Academy of Sciences voted April 28 at its 152nd annual meeting to change the name of the Institute of Medicine to the National Academy of Medicine, effective July 1.

    The National Academy of Medicine will continue to be an honorific society and will inherit the more than 1,900 current elected members and foreign associates of the IOM.


    Letter to the Editor

    MD Anderson Administration Behaves as a “Financially Privileged Elitist Group”

    To the Editor:

    Congratulations on your outstanding article entitled “MD Anderson Execs Get Big Raises In the Midst of Faculty Morale Woes.” As a 35-year faculty member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, now retired, I am deeply disturbed at the endangered reputation of one of the greatest institutions of its kind in the world. Every other month seems to bring some embarrassing new revelation at the hands of the current leadership.


    An Appreciation

    Mike Katz, 61, Advocate, Educator

    By Michael D. Scott

    The cancer field is filled with advocates—advocates for research into specific forms of malignancy, advocates for access to care for patients with limited resources, advocates for pediatric cancers—you name it. Many of these people are motivated, passionate, determined, and successful in moving their specific agendas forward in the interests of patients, clinicians, researchers, and others.

    In Brief

    • Margaret Kripke to retire as CPRIT chief scientist

    • CPRIT to award two grants

    • ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation names annual award winners

    • Karmanos Cancer Institute raises $2.8 million at annual dinner
    • IU Simon Cancer Center raises $720,000 at CHUCKSTRONG tailgate gala
    • Dana-Farber, Harvard School of Public Health, and Irish Cancer Society form collaboration
    • St. Jude forms affiliate with Novant Health
    • Geisinger Health System opens precision medicine center
    Drugs and Targets

    • FDA grants orphan designation to Reolysin in malignant glioma

    • Paclical receives market authorization in Russian Federation

    • Celgene International II Sarl forms collaboration with MedImmune