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Oncology Newsfeed

  • FDA Approves New Treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia

    On September 13, the Food and Drug Administration approved moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk (Lumoxiti, AstraZeneca) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory hairy cell leukemia (HCL) who have received at least two prior systemic therapies, including treatment with a purine nucleoside analog. Lumoxiti is a CD22-directed cytotoxin and is the first of this type of treatment for patients with HCL.

    Read the full FDA press release here.

    Posted 9/13/2018


  • CMS Supports North Carolina and South Carolina Ahead of Hurricane Florence

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced efforts underway to support North Carolina and South Carolina in response to Hurricane Florence. CMS is working to ensure hospitals and other facilities can continue operations and provide access to care despite the effects of Hurricane Florence. CMS has waived certain Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) requirements; created special enrollment opportunities for individuals to access healthcare immediately; and taken steps to ensure dialysis patients obtain critical services.

    •  Waivers for Hospitals and other Healthcare Facilities: CMS has temporarily waived or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. CMS issued a number of blanket waivers, listed on the website below, and the CMS Regional Offices have granted other provider-specific requests for specific types of hospitals and other facilities in North Carolina and South Carolina. These waivers work to provide continued access to care for beneficiaries. For more information on the waivers CMS granted, visit www.cms.gov/emergency.
    • Special Enrollment Opportunities for Hurricane Victims:  CMS has made available special enrollment periods for all Medicare beneficiaries and certain individuals seeking health plans offered through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. This gives people impacted by the hurricane the opportunity to change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans and gain access to health coverage on the Exchange immediately if eligible for the special enrollment period. For more information on these special enrollment periods, visit:
          - https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/8-9-natural-disaster-SEP.pdf
          - https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/EPRO/Past-Emergencies/Hurricanes-and-tropical-storms.html
    • Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for State Medicaid Agencies: CMS developed an inventory of Medicaid and CHIP flexibilities and authorities available to states in the event of a disaster. For more information and to access the toolkit, visit https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/disaster-response-toolkit/index.html.
    • Dialysis Care: CMS is helping patients obtain access to critical services. The Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) program has been activated ahead of the storm and is working with the End Stage Renal Disease Network of the South Atlantic, ESRD NW 6, to assess the status of dialysis facilities in the potentially impacted areas related to generators, alternate water supplies, education and materials for patients, and more. They are also assisting patients who have evacuated ahead of the storm to receive dialysis services in the location to which they are evacuating. The ESRD NW toll-free hotline is 800-524-7139 and the KCER hotline is 866-901-3773. Additional information is available on the KCER website www.kcercoalition.com.
    • Medical equipment and supplies replacements: CMS temporarily suspended certain requirements necessary for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost or realized damage to their durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies as a result of the hurricane. This will help to make sure that beneficiaries can continue to access necessary medical equipment and supplies. Medicare beneficiaries can contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.
    • Suspension of Enforcement Activities: CMS will suspend current survey and enforcement activities for healthcare facilities in North Carolina and South Carolina, but will continue to investigate allegations of immediate threat to patient health and safety.
    • Ensuring Access to Care in Medicare Advantage and Part D.  During a public health emergency, Medicare Advantage Organizations and Part D Plan sponsors must take steps to maintain access to covered benefits for beneficiaries in affected areas. These steps include allowing Part A/B and supplemental Part C plan benefits to be furnished at specified non-contracted facilities and waiving, in full, requirements for gatekeeper referrals where applicable.

    For more information, visit www.cms.gov/emergency.

    Posted 9/13/2018



  • AACR Releases Annual Cancer Progress Report

    On September 12, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) released its annual Cancer Progress Report highlighting how federally funded research discoveries are fueling the development of new and even more effective ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer.

    Key advances outlined in the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2018 include the following:

    • Twenty-two treatments for cancer were approved for the first time by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or approved for new types of cancer between Aug. 1, 2017, and July 31, 2018. Among these treatments are revolutionary new immunotherapeutics called CAR T–cell therapies, exciting new targeted radiotherapeutics, and numerous new targeted therapeutics that are expanding the scope of precision medicine.
    • The U.S. cancer death rate declined by 26 percent for adults from 1991 to 2015, a reduction that translates into almost 2.4 million lives saved, according to the latest data.
    • The cigarette smoking rate among U.S. adults has fallen to 14 percent, down from 42 percent in 1965, thanks to public education and important policy initiatives.

    Read the full Cancer Progress Report for more information.

    Posted 9/13/2018



  • ACCC Submits Comments to CY2019 Proposed PFS Rule

    On September 10, 2018, the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on the agency's proposed Physician Fee Schedule rule for calendar year 2019.  

    Read the ACCC CY 2019 PFS comment letter.

    Posted 9/11/2018


  • Three Foundations Commit 30 Million Dollars to Nonprofit Generic Drug Company

    On September 6, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Peterson Center on Healthcare, and Gary and Mary West Foundation announced that they have committed $30 million to help establish Civica Rx, a new nonprofit generic drug company. The foundations join hospital groups representing more than 450 hospitals in the creation of the company.

    Civica Rx has identified 14 hospital-administered generic drugs as its initial focus, seeking to stabilize the supply of essential medications, many of which have fallen into chronic shortage situations. The company expects its first products to be released in early 2019.

    Read the full press release here.

    Posted 9/6/2018


  • CMS Issues Changes to Part D Formulary Options in 2020

    On Wednesday, August 29, 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memo to Medicare Part D plans that will allow these plans to implement “indication-based formulary design” starting in 2020.

    Currently, if a Part D plan includes a specific drug on its formulary, the plan must cover that drug for every FDA-approved indication, or patient condition, even if the plan would otherwise instead cover a different drug for a particular indication.

    The CMS memo states that if a Part D plan limits formulary coverage of a drug to certain indications, the plan must ensure that there are other therapeutically similar drugs on formulary for the drug’s non-covered indications. 

    The ACCC policy team is currently reviewing this policy change.

    Read the CMS memo to Part D plans.
    Read the agency's fact sheet.

    Posted 8/29/2018



  • FDA Approves Ibrutinib Plus Rituximab for Rare Blood Cancer

    On August 27, AbbVie announced that the FDA has approved ibrutinib (Imbruvica) (Pharmacyclics, LLC) plus rituximab for the treatment of adult patients with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (WM), a rare and incurable type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). This approval represents the first and only chemotherapy-free combination treatment specifically indicated for the disease.

    Read the full AbbVie corporate press release here.

    Posted 8/27/2018


  • FDA Approves Pembrolizumab + Chemotherapy for NSqNSCLC

    On August 17, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck & Co., Inc.) in combination with pemetrexed and platinum as first-line treatment of patients with metastatic, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSqNSCLC), with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

    Pembrolizumab was previously granted accelerated approval for this indication in May 2017 based on improvements in overall response rate and progression-free survival for patients randomized to pembrolizumab administered with pemetrexed and carboplatin as compared with pemetrexed and carboplatin alone in the KEYNOTE-021 study. This approval represents fulfillment of a postmarketing commitment demonstrating the clinical benefit of this product.

    Read the full FDA announcement here.

    Posted 8/20/2018



  • FDA Updates Prescribing Information for Keytruda and Tecentriq

    On August 16, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration updated the prescribing information for pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck & Co., Inc.) and atezolizumab (Tecentriq, Genentech, Inc.) to require the use of an FDA-approved companion diagnostic test to determine PD-L1 levels in tumor tissue from patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who are cisplatin-ineligible. FDA approved two different companion diagnostic tests, one for use with Keytruda and one for use with Tecentriq.

    On August 16, 2018, the FDA approved the Dako PD-L1 IHC 22C3 PharmDx Assay (Dako North America, Inc.) as a companion diagnostic to select patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are cisplatin-ineligible for treatment with Keytruda. The 22C3 assay determines PD-L1 expression by using a combined positive score (CPS) assessing PD-L1 staining in tumor and immune cells.

    On July 2, 2018, the FDA approved the Ventana PD-L1 (SP142) Assay (Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.) as a companion diagnostic test to select patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are cisplatin-ineligible for treatment with Tecentriq. The SP142 assay determines PD L1 expression in immune cells.

    Read the full FDA announcement here.

    Posted 8/20/2018


  • FDA Approves Nivolumab for Previously Treated SCLC Patients

    On August 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab (Opdivo, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.) for patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) whose cancer has progressed after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least one other line of therapy. Approval for this indication has been granted under accelerated approval based on overall response rate (ORR) and duration of response (DOR).

    Read the BMS press release here.
    Read the FDA announcement here.

    Posted 8/17/2018