Following the guidance of the Blue Ribbon Panel, Vice President Joe Biden today presented the Cancer Moonshot report to President Barack Obama and the nation, delineating an actionable plan to transform cancer research and care delivery. Additionally, new public—private partnerships were announced that can contribute to the goals of Cancer Moonshot.
In his report, Biden acknowledged the rampant collaboration that he observed across biological research fields, as well as the massive technological advances in genomic research that has opened up the path for personalizing treatment for a specific type of tumor in a specific patient. However, despite these advances and the fact that the Affordable Care Act promotes early screening and removes coverage barriers due to a preexisting cancer diagnosis, several hurdles remain:
- Need for incentives that promote and reward collaboration rather than individual success
- Need to improve recruitment and retain participants in cancer clinical trials
- Lack of open access and rapid sharing of research data
- Barriers to sharing patient medical records
- Insufficient collaboration around and utilization of technological capabilities to harness electronic health records
- Slow dissemination of discoveries and clinical data, especially in community practices
The report also highlights strides in cancer research following the creation of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, including:
- A new partnership launched by the National Institutes of Health that has brought together drug companies, cancer research centers, foundations, and philanthropies to collaborate and share data on early stage research.
- Creation of a Drug Formulary by the National Cancer Institute—a partnership that includes 20 to 30 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies—to allow researchers easier access to license and test existing drugs in combination trials.
- The US Patent and Trademark Office has launched a pilot program to reduce processing time for patent applications.
- A collaboration between the Department of Energy and the US Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to significantly contribute to the Precision Medicine Initiative.
- A new clinical trials “dashboard” that ensures easier access to information on current clinical trials.
The report recommends the need to focus efforts on a few key areas:
- Realigning research incentives. The report advises changes to the federal research funding strategy to provide support for high-risk/high-reward research, as well as greater transparency to publicizing research results.
- Prevention and screening efforts. While indicating that a healthy lifestyle and reducing environmental carcinogens can have a significant impact on reducing the emergence of new cancers, the report highlights the great potential of technological and medical advances in understanding cancer prevention and developing new methods to improve screening efforts.
- Patient engagement. Patients should have the ability to easily access and share their medical information to allow informed care decisions, as well as improved care coordination.
- Expand access to care. To remove socioeconomic, rare disease, and geographic bias from access to care, the report presents a number of recommendations, including greater community engagement efforts and increased federal and private funding for community clinics.
- Develop new financial models that address drug prices and continue to support innovation. To create new reimbursement models, legislative and regulatory venues should be explored to enhance cooperation very early in the drug development cycle. The report recommends a national conversation among drug development companies, insurance companies, pharmacy benefit managers, and patient advocacy groups to develop a more rational system on drug pricing.
You can download the entire report here.