Monthly Links Roundup: July 2018

This month, we announced that Richard and Susan Rogel would receive AACI’s inaugural Champions for Cures Award, which recognizes individuals who lead and support efforts to cure cancer and inspire others to do the same.

The award will be presented to the Rogels in recognition of their $150 million gift to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was renamed Rogel Cancer Center in their honor.

During the most popular vacation time of the year, we shared sun safety tips for UV Safety Month.

We brought attention to sarcoma—often described as “the forgotten cancer”—for Sarcoma Awareness Month.

AACI’s 10th Annual CRI Meeting was held July 11-12.

Dr. Cheryl L. Willman, CEO and director of University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, encouraged AACI members to continue advocating for the Congressionally-mandated 340B drug pricing program, which is currently at risk due to a CMS rule introduced in January 2018.

Coming up in August:

  • World Lung Cancer Day
  • National Breastfeeding Month
  • National Immunization Awareness Month
  • Summer Sun Safety Month 


PCLI Webinar Recap: Treatment Pathways

pcliwebinarCancer is not a “one-size-fits-all” disease. Every cancer patient has a unique experience, shaped by factors from the specific form of cancer they’re fighting to the stage of the disease.

Through the Pathways tool, experts at Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are creating an electronic “roadmap” of the best treatments for every cancer, at every stage.

On Thursday, July 19, AACI’s Physician Clinical Leadership Initiative (PCLI) hosted a webinar titled “Treatment Pathways” with Craig A. Bunnell, MD, MPH, MBA, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber, and David Jackman, MD, senior physician in the institute’s thoracic oncology program.

“Clinical Pathways have become an integral part of the way we practice at the Dana-Farber,” said Dr. Bunnell, who is also a member of the PCLI steering committee.

Bunnell said it’s critically important that care is cutting-edge and evidence-based, whether it’s provided at a cancer center’s main campus or at its satellites or affiliates, and regardless of the physician a patient sees on a particular day.

According to Dr. Jackman, who spearheaded the tool at Dana-Farber, Pathways “is a means to bridge complementary efforts” across sites, ensuring standardized care and optimizing resources.

Physicians rely on Pathways to guide the development of customized treatment plans that match patients with the therapies best-suited to their needs. The platform provides real-time decision-making support across a continuum of cancer care and is available to every provider in the Dana-Farber network.

Drug availability, clinical trial relevance, medication interactions, and co-morbid conditions are among the data physicians can analyze to forge a unique path for each patient.

Though no single technology can ever be granular enough to encompass every possible treatment for every patient, Pathways has been established as an effective, innovative platform at cancer centers across the country.

Jackman said the goal at Dana-Farber is to get 70 to 85 percent of physicians on the system. Once doctors make a regular habit of utilizing Pathways, he said, its value to their day-to-day practice becomes clear.

“Art isn’t art till it hits canvas,” said Jackman. “Before that it’s just vision.”

A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Pictured (top to bottom): Dana-Farber’s Dr. Craig A. Bunnell and Dr. David Jackman.


CMS Reimbursement Cuts to Cancer Centers Threaten Access to Lifesaving Cancer Treatments for Underserved Patients


Cheryl L. Willman, MD

On January 1, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented a new rule that significantly reduces reimbursement to hospitals and the vast majority of cancer centers that participate in the Congressionally-mandated 340B Drug Purchasing Program. The new CMS rule (82 FR 52356) went into effect without Congressional approval and despite strong bipartisan objections from legislators in both chambers of Congress, the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), and a large majority of cancer center directors from NCI-designated and emerging academic cancer centers. The rule disproportionately harms those hospitals and cancer centers that provide care for the most vulnerable and underserved cancer patients, compounding the nation’s tremendous cancer health disparities.

Established by Congress in 1992 with strong bipartisan support, the 340B Drug Pricing Program requires drug manufacturers to sell drugs at discounted prices to hospitals and cancer centers that provide a disproportionate share of care to low-income, rural, poor, and underserved patients, to have their drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid. The Congressional intent of the 340B Drug Pricing program is to allow hospitals and cancer centers to reinvest their savings from these drug discounts to assure patient access to high-quality care and lifesaving cancer treatments, and to develop comprehensive services.

The new CMS rule drastically reduces Medicare Part B reimbursement rates for drug  purchases to hospitals and cancer centers participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Under the new rule, CMS reimbursement for drug purchases has decreased from the prior rate of Average Sale Price (ASP) plus 6 percent, to ASP minus 22.5 percent, resulting in a cut of $1.6 billion per year to the nation’s public safety-net hospitals and cancer centers. This cut fully eliminates the benefit of the 340B drug pricing program to participating cancer centers. Despite claims by CMS and the drug industry, the new rule does not lower drug prices, save money for Medicare or for seniors, or reduce patient co-pays. In fact, the cost of lifesaving cancer drugs is predicted to increase significantly.

Read more from Dr. Willman, CEO and director of the University of New Mexico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, in AACI’s July 2018 Commentary

AACI PCLI Webinar: Treatment Pathways


Join us this Thursday, July 19 at 12 pm Eastern for a PCLI webinar, “Treatment Pathways,” hosted by AACI with Craig A. Bunnell, MD, MPH, MBA, chief medical officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School and PCLI steering committee member. Guest presenter is David Jackman, MD, senior physician in the Dana-Farber thoracic oncology program.

Pathways blog

Celebrating 10 Years of AACI’s CRI Meeting

CRI 2018 program coverOver on Twitter, we’ve been sharing facts and figures (plus a few snapshots) that showcase our annual Clinical Research Initiative Meeting through the years. From 83 attendees in 2009 to almost 400 this year, the meeting has seen rapid growth. 

As we gear up for this year’s meeting, let’s take a trip down memory lane…

  • Since 2009, AACI’s CRI has had four steering committee chairs: Dr. James Thomas (Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center), Dr. Tony Reid (UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center), Dr. Paul Martin (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) and Dr. Carrie Lee (UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center). Fun fact: Dr. Thomas is the only attendee who has registered for all 10 meetings! 
  • In 2011, 18 abstracts were submitted to the meeting. In 2018, that number has grown to 68. Check out this year’s abstracts.
  • The CRI Listserv gives AACI’s 98 member centers a platform to share resources & crowdsource best practices. The Listserv had 330 subscribers in 2012. Today, that number has grown to 637.
  • Last year’s program theme was “Moving Science Forward.” This year’s CRI meeting is all about “Leveraging Change to Advance Cures for Cancer Patients.”
  • Over 60 posters will be on display at this year’s meeting. Members can join us for a poster session from 6:00-6:30 pm on Wednesday, July 11. Posters 2015
  • To follow along with the sessions and share your own thoughts (and photos!), use the hashtag #CRI2018 throughout the meeting (July 11-12, Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel) and stay tuned for the rest of our #10yearsofCRI tweets today and tomorrow.

Member Spotlight: July 2018

Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute

Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute

At Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, more than 450 doctors, researchers, nurses, and technicians care for thousands of patients each year.

The center unites clinicians and researchers in Taussig Cancer Institute and in Cleveland Clinic’s 26 other clinical and surgical institutes, as well as cancer specialists at regional hospitals, health centers, and at Cleveland Clinic Florida.

It provides a range of services to patients including clinical trials and internationally-recognized cancer research efforts.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health

Fox Chase Cancer CenterFounded in Philadelphia in 1904, Fox Chase Cancer Center was one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals and one of the first to earn the comprehensive designation from the National Cancer Institute in 1974. It became part of the Temple University Health System in 2012.

Fox Chase was the center of the research that helped to establish the field of cancer genetics and the development of Gleevec, a treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia.

Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University

kimmelThe Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia has been a National Cancer Institute-designated center since 1996.

Founded in 1991 as a stand-alone center with a staff of 30, it has grown to comprise 32 hospitals within its cancer network and practices staffed by hundreds of oncology researchers and physicians from around the globe.

The Sidney Kimmel Center Consortium includes Drexel University and Lankenau Institute for Medical Research.