Cancer Policy Monitor: Dec. 8, 2017
Fellows of the AACR Academy Urge Congress to Reach Bipartisan Budget Agreement
Association for Cancer Research (AACR) delivered a letter to
congressional leaders from distinguished AACR current and past presidents and Fellows of the AACR
18 Nobel Laureates, calling on leaders in the House and Senate to “move quickly
to finalize a multi-year, bipartisan budget agreement that raises the caps on
non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2018 imposed by the Budget Control Act.”
caps is necessary for Congress to provide the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
with $36.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2018, a $2 billion increase over FY 2017
that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee but has not yet passed
the full Senate.
“It is only
through robust, sustained, and predictable federal funding for research that we
can continue to bring hope to the millions of people who are touched by cancer,”
said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), AACR chief executive officer. “Additionally,
we are relying on many talented and dedicated early-career investigators to carry
the torch of progress going forward, and if provided with the resources that
are needed, their work will give us the future we all hope for – a future
The letter emphasizes
that innovative cancer treatments, such as molecularly targeted therapeutics
and immunotherapies, are now making their way to patients at an ever-increasing
pace. These advances, highlighted in the AACR Cancer
Progress Report 2017, are the direct result of federal investment in laboratory,
translational, and clinical research through the NIH and the National Cancer
Institute (NCI). However, with 595,690 estimated cancer deaths this year alone,
including children and adults, there is still more work to be done, which is
why sustained and robust funding increases for the NIH and NCI remain essential.
The letter also
calls attention to urgent issues facing early-career scientists, remarking that
significant annual NIH funding increases are crucial if we are to secure a
strong and diverse pipeline of early-career investigators committed to
advancing cancer research and reducing cancer morbidity and mortality.
In all, 95 of
the 119 fellows residing in the United States signed the letter, along with the
current president of the AACR. View the full list of 96 signatories.
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Join Fellows of the AACR Academy and Nobel Prize Laurates in Sending a Letter to Congress
Today you can make an impact on the
future of cancer research by joining current AACR president and past presidents, as well as Fellows of the AACR Academy that include 18 Nobel
Laureates, to urge leaders in the House and Senate to invest in biomedical
research. This distinguished group of leading cancer researchers and
physician-scientists sent a letter to leaders
in the House and Senate to do just that.
Please take a moment today to also contact Congress and urge them to move quickly toward
finalizing a multi-year, bipartisan budget agreement that raises the caps on
non-defense discretionary spending in FY 2018 imposed by the Budget Control
Act. Lifting the caps is necessary for Congress to provide the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) with a proposed $2 billion increase in fiscal year
(FY) 2018, for a total funding level of $36.1 billion.
As budget negotiations are at a critical
point, now is the time to make our voices heard with our senators and representatives, and to let them know that robust, sustained, and predictable
funding increases for the NIH and the National Cancer Institute remain
essential for further progress.
The links below provide you with a simple, customizable letter and
a call script for you to use in your outreach. Thank you for taking the time to
show Congress that we are united in our support for the vital NIH and NCI funding
increases that are needed to improve our nation’s health and save more lives
Send an Email. Make a Phone Call.
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From Tax Reform to NIH Funding: Key Policy Updates from Capitol Hill
Both the House and Senate have been busy with tax reform legislation. Meanwhile, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb gave an update on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act during a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing.
Tax Overhaul Legislation
Both the House and the Senate have passed different versions of legislation aimed at overhauling the tax code, the biggest tax reform since 1986. The AACR is concerened about several provisions in the proposed reforms, particularly in the House bill, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
First, we oppose section 1204 of H.R. 1 as passed by the House, which requires graduate student tuition waivers, currently tax-exempt, to be reported as taxable income. The AACR's membership includes 13,000 graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows who are enrolled in educational or training programs leading to careers in cancer research. Many of these Associate members are graduate student researchers and teaching assistants, and they rely heavily on tuition waivers to make their graduate educations possible. The provision in the House bill would, in effect, penalize graduate students by taxing them on "income" they do not receive and significantly increasing their tax liability. Placing a greater financial burden on scientists in the dawn of their careers is counterproductive and further jeopardizes our country's ability to secure a strong, diverse pipeline of early-career investigators who will make the cancer research breakthroughs of tomorrow.
Second, we strongly oppose the repeal of the medical expense deduction. Millions of Americans with life-threatening, costly conditions and diseases, including many cancers, would no longer be able to deduct out of pocket medical expenses that exceed a certain percentage of their income. This year, nearly 1.7 million Americans across all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic populations will hear the words, "you have cancer." Along with the physical and emotional distress that accompanies a cancer diagnosis, an increasing number of cancer survivors will suffer financial toxicity associated with large, unpredictable medical expenses. For example, Health Affairs reported a survey of cancer survivors aged 18-64 in which approximately one-third went into debt to cover treatment costs, and of those, 55 percent incurred bills of $10,000 or more. The medical expense deduction can provide financial relief to these individuals and their families, and therefore it should not be eliminated.
 Banegas, MP et. al. For Working-age Cancer Survivors, Medical Debt and Bankruptcy Create Financial Hardships. Health Affairs; 2016; 35(1): 54-61.
FY 2018 Appropriations Update
While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) continues to take up a
great deal of Congress’ time at the moment, talks continue on Capitol Hill about how to proceed with
addressing the budget caps and finalizing the FY 2018 appropriations
bills. Although a meeting last week between the White House and a
bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders to discuss a budget agreement was
cancelled, but information has emerged that suggests progress is being made, particularly a chance to reach a budget deal before or shortly after the
end of the year.
The current Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the
government expires December 8. It is likely that a short-term CR will be passed, which would fund the government through through December 22
, giving time for leaders to consider new budget caps for defense and non-defense discretionary spending. An additional short-term CR
into January would then provide time for the appropriations committees to put
together an omnibus bill under the new caps.
21st Century Cures Act Oversight Hearing
On November 30, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on
Health, under the leadership of Chairman Michael Burgess (R-TX), held the first
oversight hearing on the implementation of the 21st Century Cures
Act. The witnesses were Dr. Collins and Dr. Gottlieb, who covered a wide range
of topics related to the 21st Century Cures Act and its
implementation through both agencies. Members on both
sides of the aisle expressed strong support for the NIH, FDA and the work being
done as a result of Cures. Several members specifically noted their pride in
Cures as a signature achievement of the committee and of their congressional
During the hearing, which ran for more than two hours and covered a wide range
of topics, several key areas of interest to the AACR were discussed, including:
- Implementation of the
Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot
- Support for early career
- Establishment of the FDA
Oncology Center of Excellence
- Expedited review of
therapies, and the accelerated approval process at the FDA
- Forthcoming guidance
from the FDA on targeted therapies, and specifically, therapies designed
for biological markers/tissue agnostic indications.
There was a great deal of interest in and
positive discussion surrounding the Cancer Moonshot, particularly promising
areas such as immunotherapy. Members raised questions about how these exciting
breakthroughs can be applied to more cancers and made accessible to more
patients. Both full Committee Chairman Greg Walden
(R-OR) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) questioned Dr. Gottlieb on the Oncology
Center of Excellence, providing him the opportunity to talk about the center
and its importance. Dr. Gottlieb praised the work of the center,
highlighting its role in approval of CAR T-cell therapy earlier this year. In
response to questioning about funding, Dr. Gottlieb stated on record that currently
the Center does not have new funds, and Rep. DeGette expressed her determination to see the
center gets the funding it needs.
Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Rep. DeGette expressed their desire to move
legislation in 2018 that would reform and update the diagnostic approval
process. Dr. Gottlieb expressed his support for a legislation approach that
maintains a role for the FDA and maintains a framework under the device
category. With respect to drug pricing, Rep. Jan Schakowksy (D-IL) voiced
her concerns to Dr. Gottlieb and Dr. Collins that high drug prices make the
therapies, made possible through research done through NIH, unaccessible for
many patients. Dr. Collins acknowledged that this was a big concern, but that
much of it was outside of NIH’s legal control.
The recorded hearing can be viewed and the witness
testimonies can be accessed in full here.
The House and Senate
Armed Services conference committee released the final, negotiated National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill in November. In it, the language that
would have severely restricted the scope of the Congressionally-mandated Medical
Research Program (CDMRP), and therefore harmed cancer research efforts, was
removed. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) led
efforts among their colleagues to support the programs.
While this is a
significant, positive development for the CDMRP, the issue is not likely
to go away. In the conference report, members included language
expressing their concern that funding for the CDMRP is putting pressure on
other defense priorities due to the budget caps currently in place. The AACR will continue to monitor developments related to CDMRP and to
advocate for their sustained funding.
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Tobacco Companies Held Accountable for Deceiving the American Public
On Nov. 26, 2017, major U.S.
tobacco companies began complying with a 2006
court order that they spent over a decade trying to appeal. As a result of the
order, these companies must run advertisements in over 50 newspapers, as well
as on national primetime television,
informing Americans of the truth about the consequences of smoking and
secondhand smoke. These ads, known as corrective ads, are designed to correct
decades of misinformation that tobacco companies had spread about their
1999, the U.S. Department of Justice sued major cigarette manufacturers, Altria,
Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, and Lorillard, for violating civil
provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO),
and other laws. On Aug. 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued
her verdict against the companies, finding them guilty of breaking civil
racketeering laws deceptively marketing to children, and lying to the public
about the dangers of smoking. In a 1,683-page final opinion, she detailed how
the tobacco companies “have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal,
with deception, with a singled-minded focus on their financial success, and
without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted...The
evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants have not ceased
engaging in unlawful activity.”
Kessler ordered the tobacco companies to publish corrective statements on five
topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public. These topics
included the adverse health effects of smoking; addictiveness of smoking and
nicotine; lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,”
“ultra light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been
deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes); manipulation of
cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and adverse
health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Following the verdict, tobacco
companies spent 11 years trying to weaken the order and delay its
implementation through the appeals process. While the tobacco companies succeeded
in removing language from the order stating that they had deliberately deceived
the American public about the health effects of smoking, the companies are
still required to comply with most of the provisions of the original order.
The corrective ads will finally run in
the front section of about 50 Sunday newspapers specified by the court.
Following the first of these ads that ran in the Nov. 26 issues, the rest
of the ads will run Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 4, and March 4. The companies
must also run corrective ads on major television networks during prime time for
one year. The tobacco companies must also publish the corrective statements on
their websites and cigarette packs, although the implementation details of that
are still being finalized.
significant progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use is still the leading
preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, killing nearly
500,000 Americans and costing the nation about $170 billion in health care
expenses each year. The tobacco industry has long profited from deceptively
promoting products that lead to disease, death, and economic hardship. Each
year, tobacco companies spend billions to market cigarettes and other tobacco
products to young adults. Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 tobacco users start
before the age of 18.
The corrective ads are an important first step in making sure that
smoking-related cancers are a thing of the past. However, this is only one step
forward, and one step is never enough. The
AACR and its Tobacco
and Cancer Subcommittee welcome the corrective statement ads
because they will focus attention on the enormous public health problem caused
by tobacco use and the need for strong action to save lives. To further reduce
tobacco use, the AACR is calling upon state and city officials to raise the
sale age of tobacco products to 21, pass comprehensive smoke-free laws,
increase individual states’ tobacco taxes, ban kid-friendly flavors in all tobacco
products, and increase funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
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Apply Today: AACR Early-career Hill Day 2018
In 2018, the AACR will once again
offer the fantastic opportunity for approximately 15 Associate Members
to engage and educate key congressional leadership regarding the needs
of cancer researchers, particularly those early in their careers, in
Washington, D.C. Applications to participate in this annual AACR Early-career Hill Day are now open through 1 p.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 29.
How to Apply
Go to your myAACR account and login.
Ensure all your profile information is up-to-date in myAACR.
to the Applications tab within myAACR and you should automatically be
redirected to our new, streamlined application platform, FluidReview.
FluidReview, access a list of all open applications for which you are
individually eligible by clicking “View All Activities.” Note, your
myAACR Associate Member account must be paid through Dec. 31, 2017, or you will not be able to view this application in FluidReview
on the AACR Early-career Hill Day application option and complete the
necessary tasks/steps indicated for that application by the deadline,
including any additional upload of files that are requested.
you submit, you will receive a confirmation email. If you do not
receive an email, go back and make sure you clicked the submission
button at the bottom of the application task list.
Overview of Hill Day Activities
will be divided into groups to meet face-to-face with senators and
House representatives and/or their key staff member(s).
Each group will attend four or five meetings on Capitol Hill during the event.
each meeting, participants will have the opportunity to share
first-hand stories about the impact of cancer research funding on their
career and how cancer may have personally touched their life or that of a
A special training webinar will be held in advance,
in addition to a welcome and briefing dinner, to emphasize key messaging
points for the event.
In addition to activities during the Hill
Day, participants may be asked to contribute to further advocacy
efforts after the event.
Don't miss out on your chance to participate in this
opportunity to interact with, and advocate to, congressional leadership!
Applications are being accepted from AACR Associate Members in good
standing (dues paid through Dec. 31, 2017) through Dec. 29.
are unable to attend, there is still an opportunity to get involved! In
conjunction with the Hill Day, we annually invite early-career
scientists anywhere in the U.S. to participate in the National Day of
Action. During this National Day of Action, investigators are encouraged
to contact their congressional representative and senators to urge them
to support robust, sustained and predictable funding increases for the
National Institutes of Health. It only takes a few minutes
to send an email and/or call your congressional representative and
senators, and your voice can greatly help advance our message to
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FDA to Hold Special Session for Patient Advocates at SABCS
Patient advocates who are planning on
attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) this year are invited
to participate in a special U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) session for
patient advocates. The session will take place Thursday, Dec. 7, from
noon-1 p.m. in Room 221 of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. This session
provides an opportunity for patient advocates to learn more about the role of
the FDA in oncology drug development and interact with key FDA officials.
Participating in the FDA’s special session for advocates are
several key FDA staff members who provide regulatory oversight for breast
cancer treatments, including Julia Beaver, MD, director of the
Division of Oncology Products 1 (DOP1) at the FDA’s Office of Hematology and
Oncology Products; as well as members of the DOP1’s Breast Cancer Team
including clinical team leader Laleh Amiri-Kordestani, MD; Suparna Wedam, MD; Tatiana
Prowell, MD; Nancy Scher, MD; Sara Horton, MD; Jennifer Gao, MD; and Lynn Howie,
Date: December 7
Time: noon-1 p.m.
Location: Room 221, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
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FDA-AACR-ASTRO Workshop: Clinical Development of Drug-radiotherapy Combinations
Date: Feb. 22-23, 2018. Location: Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel, One Bethesda Metro Center, 7400 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814
Register for in-person or webcast participation.
is great interest among clinicians as well as regulatory authorities to
address the lack of drug development for products intended specifically
for use with radiation therapy. Emerging from the enthusiasm and
momentum of a session at the AACR-sponsored Accelerating Anticancer
Agent Development and Validation Workshop (May 3-5, 2017, Bethesda, Maryland),
this two-day workshop will bring together regulatory agencies,
industry, and academia to discuss the challenges in greater depth and
come up with a path forward.
- Amanda Walker, MD, associate director (acting), Oncology Center of Excellence; Medical
Officer, Division of Oncology Products 1, Office of Hematology and
Oncology (OHOP), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), FDA
- Stephen M. Hahn, MD, deputy president and chief operating officer; chair and professor,
Department of Radiation Oncology, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Theodore S. Lawrence, MD, PhD, professor and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan
- Marka Crittenden, MD, PhD, director, Translational Radiation Research, Earle A. Chiles Research
Institute, Providence Cancer Center; radiation oncologist, The Oregon
- Phuoc T. Tran, MD, PhD, associate professor, Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
Register for in-person or webcast participation.
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Save the Date: Rally for Medical Research 2018
The sixth annual Rally for Medical Research will be held Sept. 12-13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. For those who cannot participate in person, the online Rally National Day of Action will take place Sept. 13.
Stay up-to-date on registration information by visiting the Rally website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
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Join the AACR Cancer Action Alliance
in January 2012, the alliance leverages the strength of AACR members
and interested nonmembers to build nationwide public and congressional
support for cancer research and scientific progress. Alliance members
are kept regularly informed about the news and events that affect cancer
research and are alerted to opportunities to contact Congress or
participate in other forms of outreach. Alliance members receive action
alerts, timely legislative updates and other resources to facilitate
With the Trump administration
proposing deep cuts to the NIH budget, it is imperative that everyone
who cares about defeating cancer speak out now and urge lawmakers not to
turn their backs on the incredible scientific opportunities that are
before us. Senators and representatives need to hear directly from
residents in their district and/or state to understand what is at stake
for their constituency, in terms of economics, health and
competitiveness, if cancer research is not made a priority.
is free and simple to join and your contact information will be used
only to contact you about the AACR’s advocacy efforts and opportunities
to take action.
Sign up here
to receive action alerts and learn about opportunities to join other
scientists, patients, survivors, and concerned citizens in calling on
Congress to provide critical funding increases for the lifesaving cancer
and biomedical research supported by NIH and NCI.
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