20141017 - Oct 17, 2014
ISSUE 39 – OCT. 17, 2014PDF



Indiana to Close Proton Beam Facility
Amid Nationwide Building Boom

At its opening a decade ago, the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center was one of four such facilities in the U.S.

Alas, money woes struck immediately. The center has run at a deficit for most of its existence—recently losing over $3.5 million in operating costs in fiscal 2013. And now the center is a landmark once again: On Jan. 1, 2015, it will become the first proton beam center in the U.S. to be closed.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
IU’s Loehrer Discusses “Business Decision” To Close Bloomington Proton Beam Center

The Cancer Letter asked Patrick Loehrer, director of the Indiana University Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, to discuss his institution’s decision to close its 10-year-old proton beam center.

No other institution in the U.S. has closed such a facility. 

Genentech Reps Not Welcome

Hospitals Urge Drug Maker to Reverse Policy

On Supplying Avastin, Rituxan, & Herceptin

Cancer centers and other hospitals, reeling from the loss of discounts and rebates on three widely used cancer drugs, are seeking to persuade drug maker Genentech to reverse its decision to channel these medications through six specialty distributors.

ASCO Endorses Guideline for Molecular Testing

The American Society of Clinical Oncology endorsed a joint clinical practice guideline on molecular testing published by the College of American Pathologists, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and the Association for Molecular Pathology. 

IARC Publishes Fourth Edition of European Code Against Cancer

The fourth edition of the European Code Against Cancer was published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, with the participation of the European Commission. 

Funding Opportunity

Stand Up To Cancer Canada to Fund Two Dream Teams

Stand Up To Cancer Canada will support two, four-year cancer research dream teams with nearly $20 million USD raised by SU2C Canada collaborators and from the charity’s September telecast. The dream teams will focus their research on translational research in breast cancer and cancer stem cells.

photoIn Brief

  • Francis Giles named deputy director of Lurie Cancer Center

  • Zhu Chen honored by American Association for Cancer Research

  • Lili Yang receives $2.3 million award from NIH

  • Indiana University Simon Cancer Center re-designated as NCI cancer center

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America launch fertility preservation program

  • Lurie Cancer Center to collaborate with Perthera Inc.

  • ASCO publishes survivorship care plan template

photoDrugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Velcade in mantle cell lymphoma

  • Priority Review granted to lenvatinib in thyroid cancer

  • Blinatumomab granted Priority Review in acute lymphoblastic leukemia

20141010 - Oct 10, 2014
ISSUE 38 – OCT. 10, 2014PDF



NCI Failed to Publish Two Bypass Budgets

As Funds Tightened and Sequestration Set In

What’s the NCI director’s professional judgment of opportunities in cancer research at a time of shrinking budgets, sequestration and conclusion of the windfall of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

Under ordinary circumstances, this question wouldn’t have required a mind reader. The NCI director has an authority no other government executive enjoys: every year, he submits a summary of scientific opportunities directly to the White House, bypassing review by the NIH director and officials at the place ominously called “Downtown,” the brutalist-style HHS headquarters at the base of Capitol Hill.

Guest Editorial
Andrew Vickers on PSA Skepticism, Rational and Irrational

I consider myself a prostate cancer screening skeptic. For example, in the title of the grand rounds lecture I have given for many years, I describe PSA as a “public health fiasco.”

I have also gone on the record to state: “PSA testing as it is commonly practiced in the U.S. is indefensible.”

UT Board Announces Support for MD Anderson Tenure System

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has—in response to the threat of censure by an external group—voted to continue support of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s seven-year term tenure system.

Study: Drug Discounts Used For Wealthier Patients In Many 340B-Enrolled Hospitals

Hospitals that qualified for the 340B drug pricing program in 2004 or later were more likely to serve wealthier communities with higher rates of health insurance coverage, according to a study published Oct. 6 in the journal Health Affairs.

The primary purpose of the 340B program—established by Congress in 1992—was to provide significantly discounted outpatient drugs to low-income and uninsured patients.

photoIn Brief

  • ESMO Names Annual Award Winners
  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital launches The Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute
  • C. Parker Gibbs Jr. appointed deputy director of medical affairs for the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy launches fellowship program
  • Ohio State University completes five-year pharmaceuticals center project
  • MD Anderson and VolitionRx Limited announce collaboration
  • Andrew Brenner receives $1.62 million grant from FDA
photoDrugs and Targets

  • Akynzeo approved for chemotherapy-related nausea
  • DNX-2401 granted orphan drug designation
  • Caris Life Sciences launches pilot program through the U.K. National Health Service
  • Mayo Clinic partners with Second Genome Inc.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and MD Anderson collaborate on immunotherapies
  • PhRMA Report details nearly 800 cancer therapies currently in development
20141003 - Oct 3, 2014
ISSUE 37 – OCT. 3, 2014PDF



Genentech Move Nixes Hospital Discounts

Avastin, Herceptin, Rituxan Now Sold Under Tighter Control by Drug Maker

A move by Genentech has eliminated discounts and rebates hospitals receive when they purchase three of the company’s top-selling infused cancer drugs.

Beginning Oct. 1, hospitals can now order Avastin (bevacizumab), Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab) exclusively from six specialty distributors authorized by the drug maker.

Genentech said the move will bypass more than 80 full-line wholesale drug distribution centers, with the objective of enhancing efficiency and security of the supply chain for these widely used medications. 

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Scott Soefje: “These are Life-Saving Drugs. I’m Not Going To Stop Treating Patients, Right?”

The loss of discounts and rebates hospitals received for administering Genentech’s Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan will increase costs to patients, said Scott Soefje, director of pharmacy at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin.

Fake Avastin, Paid for by Medicare, Administered to U.S. Patients

Two years ago, British authorities tested a shipment of chemotherapy drugs headed for North America. 

They found that the agent, labeled as Genentech’s Avastin, contained no trace of Avastin’s active ingredient. The drugs were on the way to Canada, where they were to be sold to doctors throughout the U.S.

Gonzalez-Angulo To Serve 10 Years In Poisoning Case

Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo, a 43-year-old oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for poisoning her lover and colleague George Blumenschein.

The sentence, issued Sept. 29, makes Gonzalez-Angulo ineligible for probation, but under Texas law, she will be eligible for parole in 5 years.

FDA Publishes Two Guidances for Lab-Developed Tests

FDA published two draft guidance documents Oct. 3 for regulatory oversight, notification and medical device reporting for laboratory developed tests.

Groups Push for CMS Coverage for LDCT Lung Screening

A coalition of patient advocacy and medical organizations urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cover low-dose computed tomography for Medicare patients at high risk for lung cancer.

Funding Opportunity
NYC-based Research Alliance Offering $200,000 Per Year for Young Investigators

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance is taking applications for its Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. The prize of $200,000 per year for up to three years is awarded annually to five New York City-based scientists.

photoIn Brief

  • Leonidas Platanias named director of Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

  • Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State sign new affiliation agreement

  • Robert Miller named medical director of ASCO Institute of Quality

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center receives $10 million from ExxonMobil

  • Jan Egberts appointed CEO of Agendia Inc.

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering to open largest suburban location

  • CancerCare receives $1.5 million from Susan G. Komen