Studies Find Cancer Medicines May Cure Facilities’ Bottom Line As Well As Patients’ Cancer

Two studies examined spending on oral anticancer drugs as well as the 340B program, a federal program designed to help the poor. The researchers say 340B designation helps hospitals boost profits.

The first study, led by Rena M. Conti, PhD, of the University of Chicago in Illinois, examines recent trends in spending and use of oral cancer drugs. It found that average spending on the 47 available oral oncolytics, which are those cancer medications taken specifically by mouth, increased from $940 million in the first quarter of 2006 to $1.4 billion in the third quarter of 2011. The study was published in Health Affairs (2014; doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0001). (more…)

Google Developing a Pill That Would Detect Cancer and Other Diseases

LAGUNA BEACH, California — Google is attempting to develop a pill that would send microscopic particles into the bloodstream in an effort to identify cancers, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases.

Andrew Conrad, the head of life sciences inside the company’s Google X research lab, revealed the project on Tuesday morning at a conference here in Southern California. According to Conrad, the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body. The idea is that patients will swallow a pill that contains these particles, and after they enter the bloodstream—attempting to identify molecules that would indicate certain health problems—a wearable device could use their magnetic cores to gather them back together and read what they’ve found. (more…)

A New Cancer Drug Worked In Over 50% Of Patients In A Phase II Trial

A new cancer drug benefited 51% of stage III and IV melanoma patients during a phase II trial, achieving complete response (total cancer disappearance) in 26% during the treatment period. That was all in just 16 weeks of treatment, suggesting this drug has great potential for treating certain cancers in the future. (more…)

Therapy Treats Lung Cancer Based on Patients’ Genetic Markers

A new type of clinical trial for lung cancer patients getting under way at hospitals in the Bay Area and around the country may change the way drugs are tested in the future.

That’s a pretty bold expectation, but researchers say the study — called the Lung Cancer Master Protocol, or Lung-MAP — will do just that. It’s the first study to recruit large numbers of patients, profile their tumors for genetic markers, and then direct those patients to the experimental therapy that is most likely to help them. (more…)

COA Holds Landmark Summit on Cancer Care Payment Reform

COA held the inaugural Payer Exchange Summit on Oncology Payment Reform on October 22, 2014 in Washington D.C. Over 120 community oncology providers and payers, including private and federal insurers, as well as industry representatives, attended the information exchange. During this landmark, national forum, provider and payer teams discussed what has worked, what has not, and what needs to be done to enhance the quality of cancer care while realizing cost efficiencies. Additionally, Daniel McKellar, MD, the chair of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, provided an update on the accreditation of COA’s groundbreaking Oncology Medical Home program, which will be launched in 10 community practices during the first quarter of 2015. (more…)

Hospital Associations Send Letter to Genentech Protesting Switch to Specialty Distribution

Genentech has switched its distribution for top cancer drugs from wholesalers to specialty drug distributors, the same system used by community cancer clinics. Hospitals are crying foul over the switch for several reasons, including losing wholesaler discounts. Read the letter here sent by a group of hospital associations.  (more…)

Over 214,000 Doctors Opt Out of Obamacare Exchanges

Over 214,000 doctors won’t participate in the new plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA,) analysis of a new survey by Medical Group Management Association shows. That number of 214,524, estimated by American Action Forum, is through May 2014, but appears to be growing due to plans that force doctors to take on burdensome costs. It’s also about a quarter of the total number of 893,851 active professional physicians reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (more…)

Hospitals Furious at Cancer-Drug Price Hikes

Some of the nation’s hospitals are seriously ticked off at Genentech, the San Francisco biotech firm, for implementing a stealth price hike for three critical cancer drugs. On September 16, Genentech told hospitals and oncology clinics that as of October 1, they can only buy Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan—three of the biggest weapons in the cancer arsenal—through specialty distributors instead of general line wholesalers they’ve been using for years. (more…)

High Cancer Treatment Costs Force Patients to Compromise on Care

A recent national survey found that the financial burden of cancer treatment leads many patients to make potentially harmful medical care and lifestyle tradeoffs in order to pay for treatment.

Results from the survey, presented ahead of the Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in Boston this week, found that 89% of the 174 patients surveyed used at least one lifestyle-altering strategy to cope with costs, such as borrowing money, while 39% altered the course of their care by taking less medication than prescribed or not filling prescriptions. The survey included 174 insured adult patients undergoing treatment for solid malignancies who had requested financial aid through a national copay assistance program. (more…)

The Slippery Slope: Is a Surrogate Endpoint Evidence of Efficacy?

Like the others in the clinical trial, Patient No. 11561004 already had tried other treatments for his advanced kidney cancer, but those didn’t work.

So the 69-year-old man volunteered to try an unproven drug that offered some hope he might live longer.

Less than 4 months after starting the novel drug, axitinib (Inlyta), the man — identified only by age and a number in an FDA review of the clinical trial — developed severe abdominal pain, was admitted to the hospital, and died that day from gastrointestinal bleeding. (more…)