September 2014, Vol 3, No 6

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The Personalized Medicine Coalition and Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation

Edward Abrahams, PhD

The Last Word

Although we no longer talk about a “war on cancer,” there is one part of the metaphor that remains useful. In a military campaign, we employ multiple weapons against the enemy. So too in our effort to combat cancer, or the over 200 identifiable forms of that disease that will kill more than 600,000 Americans annually, we need to deploy all the resources at our disposal, just as we would if we were in a war.

That imperative has focused the attention of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) on the many public policies that can and do either accelerate or impede progress against cancer in addition to increasing funding for basic research.

If we are serious about taking advantage of the recent breakthroughs in our ability to understand the molecular pathways of cancer as well as the new tools that have been developed to precisely diagnose the disease, we have to consider all the multiple variables that determine how quickly the new basic science is translated into better clinical care. Facilitating targeted and more effective cancer treatments depends on it.

The challenge of sustaining progress against cancer in an era of significant cost constraints has defined our thinking, and shaped an initiative that PMC, together with the American Association for Cancer Research and Feinstein Kean Healthcare, calls Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation.

Two overarching questions define this initiative. First, how do we support the ongoing and promising shift away from one-size-fits-all, trial-and-error treatment to patient-centered cancer research and care that rests on the principles of personalized medicine? Issues for consideration include identifying research efforts that generate evidence that leads to better outcomes for patients; increasing patient engagement in value-based decision-making at the point of care; and developing more effective tools for measuring outcomes important to patients.

Second, in a new era of constrained budgets and the escalating price of new cancer drugs, how do we address the issue of the value of research and cancer care? Here the issues for consideration include refining tools for assessing value, especially to the patient but also to the health system generally; what incentives can be put in place to encourage innovation and medical progress; and what kinds of evidence do we need to better inform payment and coverage decisions, including alternative payment models that align with emerging science.

With policy makers, drug developers, payers, physicians, scientists, and patients, PMC, along with its partners, will host a second conference in a continuing series to consider these opportunities and challenges on October 9 at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington, DC. In addition to defining the issues, we will also outline a number of policy recommendations for consideration, which we contend can and will make an enormous difference in the future of cancer research and care.

Please join us in Washington on October 9. For more information about the conference or to register, please go to

Uncategorized - September 23, 2014

Routine Imaging Costly in B-Cell Lymphoma but Rarely Picks Up Relapse After Remission

Surveillance imaging of asymptomatic patients in first remission following treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma offers little clinical benefit at substantial cost, according to Philadelphia researchers. Strategies utilizing 2 years of routine computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scans were associated with minimal survival benefit compared with follow-up [ Read More ]

Interview with the Innovators - September 23, 2014

Tissue Phenomics: Closing the Gap Between Genomic Information and Patient Outcomes

An Interview With Thomas P. Heydler, CEO of Definiens Thomas P. Heydler is Chief Executive Officer of Definiens. Mr Heydler holds a Diplom-Ingenieur degree in Electric Engineering and Computer Science from the Technical University in Munich, Germany. Perhaps the most engaging quality of personalized medicine is the astounding diversity of [ Read More ]