From left to right: Carol Brown, Elizabeth Jaffee, and Mitchel Berger

Can­cer Moon­shot moves for­ward with new 'Cancer Cab­i­net' and goals to re­duce can­cer

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s re­vival of the Can­cer Moon­shot ini­tia­tive now in­cludes a new Can­cer Cab­i­net, with some big ideas to make the goals of the Moon­shot fea­si­ble.

The White House’s so-called Can­cer Cab­i­net — a new en­ti­ty cre­at­ed when Biden re-ig­nit­ed the Can­cer Moon­shot in Feb­ru­ary 2022 — an­nounced spe­cif­ic “pri­or­i­ty ini­tia­tives” ear­li­er this week as part of the ini­tia­tive’s stat­ed goal of try­ing to cut can­cer fa­tal­i­ty by half in 25 years. The Cab­i­net, ac­cord­ing to the White House, in­cludes mul­ti­ple fed­er­al agen­cies, in­clud­ing the NCI, FDA, CDC, and NIH — and the re­cent­ly-added De­part­ments of La­bor and Com­merce, NASA and the White House Gen­der Pol­i­cy Coun­cil.

Orig­i­nal­ly start­ed in 2016, the moon­shot ini­tia­tive was born af­ter then-Vice Pres­i­dent Biden un­der the Oba­ma ad­min­is­tra­tion lost his son Beau to brain can­cer.

The Can­cer Cab­i­net out­lined the fol­low­ing pri­or­i­ty ac­tions, a White House state­ment said:

  • im­prov­ing ac­cess to can­cer screen­ings, cit­ing that Amer­i­cans missed al­most 10 mil­lion can­cer screen­ings com­pared to pre­vi­ous years be­cause of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic,
  • ad­dress­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and tox­ic ex­po­sures, as the White House point­ed out that cer­tain en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors can play a role in cer­tain types of can­cer,
  • de­creas­ing the im­pact of pre­ventable can­cers through dif­fer­ent op­tions such as the HPV vac­cine and he­pati­tis C an­tivi­rals, and to
  • “sup­port” the R&D pipeline for de­vel­op­ment and in­volve more pop­u­la­tions in clin­i­cal re­search.

Be­yond that, the USP­TO al­so an­nounced that it was ex­tend­ing its fast-track pro­gram for can­cer prod­ucts, which was first im­ple­ment­ed in June 2016 as part of the Can­cer Moon­shot. Ac­cord­ing to the White House, patent ap­pli­ca­tions re­lat­ed to can­cer im­munother­a­py are giv­en an ac­cel­er­at­ed re­view, cut­ting the re­view time in half.

On top of those goals from the Can­cer Cab­i­net, the White House al­so an­nounced Wednes­day that it is ap­point­ing three doc­tors on­to the ad­vi­so­ry Pres­i­dent’s Can­cer Pan­el: Eliz­a­beth Jaf­fee, Mitchel Berg­er and Car­ol Brown. Mem­bers are ap­point­ed to serve three-year terms.

Jaf­fee, a deputy di­rec­tor at Johns Hop­kins’ can­cer cen­ter, is a pre­vi­ous AACR pres­i­dent and will serve as the Pan­el’s chair. Mitchel Berg­er, on top of be­ing the di­rec­tor of the Brain Tu­mor Cen­ter, is al­so di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Neu­ro­log­i­cal In­jury and Re­pair. Car­ol Brown is a gy­ne­co­log­ic on­col­o­gist at Sloan Ket­ter­ing.

And as part of the now-re­vi­tal­ized Can­cer Moon­shot, the CDC re­cent­ly cut a $215 mil­lion check as part of a 5-year, $1.1 bil­lion grant to fund the first year of three na­tion­al pro­grams es­tab­lished in the 1990s to im­prove can­cer pre­ven­tion, de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis and con­trol in all 50 states, plus 18 trib­al or­ga­ni­za­tions and five ter­ri­to­ries.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Justin Klee (L) and Joshua Cohen, Amylyx co-CEOs (Cody O'Loughlin/The New York Times; courtesy Amylyx)

Ad­vo­cates, ex­perts cry foul over Amy­lyx's new ALS drug, cit­ing is­sues with price, PhI­II com­mit­ment

Not 24 hours after earning the first ALS drug approval in five years, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals’ Relyvrio is already drawing scrutiny. And it’s coming from multiple fronts.

In an investor call Friday morning, Amylyx revealed that it would charge about $158,000 per year, a price point that immediately drew backlash from ALS advocates and some outside observers. The cost reveal had been highly anticipated in the immediate hours after Thursday evening’s approval, though Amylyx only teased Relyvrio would cost less than previously approved drugs.

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Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEO (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

Can a smart­phone app de­tect Covid? Pfiz­er throws down $116M to find out

What can a cough say about a patient’s illness? Quite a bit, according to ResApp Health — and Pfizer’s listening.

The pharma giant is shelling out about $116 million ($179 million AUD) to scoop up the University of Queensland spinout and its smartphone technology that promises to diagnose Covid and other respiratory illnesses based on cough and breathing sounds, the university announced last week.

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Big Phar­ma heavy­weights seek tweaks to FDA's clin­i­cal out­come as­sess­ment guid­ance

Pfizer, GSK, Janssen, Regeneron, Boehringer Ingelheim and at least a half dozen other companies are calling on the FDA to provide significantly more clarity in its draft guidance from this summer on clinical outcome assessments, which are a type of patient experience.

The draft is the third in a series of four patient-focused drug development guidance documents that the FDA had to create as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, and they describe how stakeholders (patients, caregivers, researchers, medical product developers and others) can collect and submit patient experience data and other relevant information for medical product development and regulatory decision-making.

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Severin Schwan, outgoing Roche CEO (via Getty Images)

Roche hires new di­ag­nos­tics chief from with­in, ahead of C-suite shake-up

More than two months after Severin Schwan announced he’s leaving Roche and handing the reins to diagnostics chief Thomas Schinecker, the pharma giant has revealed who’s taking Schinecker’s place.

Matt Sause, who currently leads Roche’s North American diagnostics business, is popping the cork on the big global promotion to take effect on March 15. The 20-year Roche veteran has served a handful of roles across the company’s diagnostics and pharma units, including a stint at Genentech where he was lifecycle leader for blockbuster Tecentriq’s head and neck cancer programs.

Will Lewis, Insmed CEO

In­smed plots up­com­ing med launch­es built on its first drug lessons and con­sumer play­book mar­ket­ing strate­gies

With its first drug launch in the books, Insmed is now focusing on building out a road map for upcoming products – with an eye on consumer marketing strategies.

For CEO Will Lewis, that means tapping consumer insights as early as possible and developing products and packaging that are intuitive and easy to use. It also means translating those patient experiences into creative and atypical biopharma marketing, and in both cases, taking a page from consumer marketers’ playbooks.

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FTC chair Lina Khan with National Community Pharmacists Association CEO Douglas Hoey (NCPA via Twitter)

FTC chair Lina Khan pledges to use all tools to in­ves­ti­gate PBMs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pharmacy benefit managers have become a thorn in the side of the pharma and insurance industries in recent years, and just a couple of months after the Federal Trade Commission signaled it would investigate unlawful PBM practices, FTC chair Lina Khan is looking to turn up the heat even more.

Khan sat down with National Community Pharmacists Association CEO Douglas Hoey on Monday morning at the NCPA’s annual convention, with a fireside chat in the heart of the Midwest.

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Rob Etherington, Clene CEO

Star­tup's gold nanocrys­tal ALS drug flops a PhII tri­al, a re­minder of the dis­ease's ob­sta­cles de­spite Amy­lyx OK

Despite the FDA approving an ALS drug for the first time in five years last week, the disease continues to fluster researchers, and another biotech is feeling the pain of a mid-stage failure.

Clene Nanomedicine reported early Monday that its ALS program, which uses gold nanocrystals to try to catalyze intracellular reactions, did not achieve its Phase II primary or secondary endpoints. And in a press release, the company noted for the first time that it’s speaking with “potential strategic partners” about the program — language that typically indicates a biotech is preparing to sell off an asset.

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