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Cancer Policy Monitor: May 2019

Cancer Policy Monitor May 14, 2019

Appropriations Update from Capitol Hill

-Brandon Leonard, MA

During the week of April 29, House Appropriators began “marking up” draft funding bills in subcommittees based on broad topline numbers approved by the Democrat majority. On April 30, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies approved a draft Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill that included a $2 billion funding increase for the NIH. The boost for medical research has strong support from Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), as well as full Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY).

The NIH also enjoys strong support in the Senate. During an April 11th hearing on the NIH budget held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education, Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ranking Member Patty Murray (WA) and full Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) all expressed their desire to continue prioritizing investment in medical research through the NIH. The Senate is expected to begin considering its spending bills later in May, but appropriators in the upper chamber will likely be working with significantly lower overall spending limits than those approved in the House.

Negotiations on a budget deal continue between President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A bipartisan deal to lift the caps will be necessary to avoid large across-the-board cuts and to allow for increased investments in NIH and other priorities.

The AACR is advocating for an increase of $2.5 billion for the NIH in FY2020, for a total funding level of $41.6 billion. This request is broadly supported in the medical research advocacy community, and is reflected in letters from both the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research and One Voice Against Cancer. The AACR is an active member of both coalitions.

AACR Submits Comments to FDA Draft Guidance Regarding Modifications to Compliance Policy for Certain Deemed Tobacco Products 

On April 30, 2019, the AACR Subcommittee on Tobacco Products submitted comments to the FDA regarding the agency’s proposed plan to modify the regulation of certain deemed tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Click here to read the comments.

MDICx: Somatic Reference Samples Tumor Suppressor and Gene Signatures Public Comment Period Now Open 

The Medical Device Innovation Consortium’s Clinical Diagnostics Cancer Genomic Somatic Reference Samples working group is seeking comments on their draft tumor suppressor gene list. The draft list can be viewed here and instructions for providing feedback on the list can be found here.

The deadline for comments is May 30.

AACR and AACI Host Annual Hill Day in Support of Cancer Research Funding

-Brandon Leonard, MA

On Tuesday, April 30, the AACR co-hosted the annual Hill Day with the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI). The event brought 91 participants, including cancer center directors, researchers, clinicians, cancer survivors and other advocates to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to continue making strong investments in cancer research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The attendees, who represented 24 states, visited nearly 150 congressional offices.

AACR CEO Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), opened the morning program for the Hill Day by commenting on the long-standing partnership between the AACR and AACI and the importance of our members making their voices heard on Capitol Hill. She then introduced Elaine R. Mardis, PhD, who began her term as President of the AACR at the Annual Meeting in April. Dr. Mardis remarked that we are in a time of extraordinary scientific possibility that will translate to new hope for cancer patients, but not without sustained investment in medical research from Congress.

The importance of cancer research funding was made clear in remarks from two cancer survivors who shared their stories with fellow Hill Day participants. Joanna Fuchs, MD, a cardiologist and wife of Yale Cancer Center Director Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006. Marty Griffin, a Pittsburgh radio host, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2018. Both speakers shared how innovations in cancer research made it possible for them to be treated successfully and continue the work that they love.

Roy A. Jensen, MD, President of the AACI and a member of the AACR’s Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee, stressed the importance of coming to Capitol Hill at a critical time in the appropriations process. Indeed, participants were excited to learn that on the same day, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies approved a draft Fiscal Year 2020 spending bill that included a $2 billion funding increase for the NIH.

The AACR and AACI will continue to work together in advocating for robust, sustained and predictable funding the NIH and NCI.

NIH-AACR Cancer, Autoimmunity, and Immunology Conference Videocasts Now Available 

Over two days, preeminent researchers gathered on the NIH campus to present their work on adverse events resulting from the treatment of cancer with immunotherapies at the NIH-AACR Cancer, Autoimmunity, and immunology Conference. Video of Day 1 and Day 2 are now freely available on the NIH videocast website.

Regulatory Science and Policy Session Webcasts Available Online 

The Regulatory Science and Policy track features sessions designed to highlight recent regulatory developments and provides an open forum for the discussion of cutting-edge issues in cancer drug, biologic, and diagnostic regulation. This year’s Annual Meeting featured the largest Regulatory Science and Policy Track ever. Archived recordings of these sessions are now available to the public. The full list of sessions and links to webcasts are available here.

The Science of Survivorship is an emerging field of research studying the biological underpinnings of survivorship. An increasing number of researchers and policymakers are focusing on survivorship issues to improve the lives of the 16.9 million survivors living in the United States. AACR’s 2019 Annual Meeting featured a new Survivorship Track.

Presidential Select Symposium at 2019 AACR Annual Meeting: Patients as Partners in the Research Process

Progress against cancer has created a new generation of survivors, and many are inspired to play a role in the cancer research community. The Presidential Select Symposium at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019 addressed these crucial roles in a session titled “Engaging Cancer Patients as Partners in the Research Process.”

Click here to read blog. Click here to view webcast.