Cancer “Moonshot” Partnerships Announced With FDA’s Dr. Richard Pazdur Appointed As Acting Head of Oncology Center Of Excellence

| July 1, 2016

On its website, NBC News, reports that “the White House sponsored a giant national cancer ‘moonshot’ pep rally” yesterday, “organizing more than 270 events aimed at boosting support for the effort to speed up cancer research.” Several “government agencies, academic researchers, cancer advocacy groups and companies all pledged cash and cooperation to get past competitive barriers that experts say often slow advances in research of the disease.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Vice President Biden spoke at one of the events, which was held at Howard University.

Reuters reports, “Among proposals intended to bypass inefficiency at the federal level,” Biden “announced the formation of an Oncology Center of Excellence at the Food and Drug Administration, which will coordinate and review all of FDA cancer treatments.” Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA’s cancer drug director, “will oversee the establishment of the center and act as its director for the next 120 days, with the potential for the position to be renewed.” In an interview, Dr. Pazdur said, “We are moving into a very complicated area in oncology where drugs and devices and biologics are going to be used in combination or sequentially.”

Pazdur said the first thing he plans to do is to “meet with those involved in oncology medical product development and review across centers to hear their ideas for the Oncology Center of Excellence and how we can work together to enhance our efforts across the agency.”

OncLive reports that Pazdur will “play a critical role serving as the central point of engagement for oncology stakeholders, including professional associations, patient-focused advocacy groups, and industry, academia, and sister agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

The ASCO Post reports that ASCO President Daniel F. Hayes, MD, said, “ASCO commends FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf for his selection of Dr. Richard Pazdur to lead the agency’s new Oncology Center of Excellence.” Hayes added that ASCO “is very supportive of the new FDA Oncology Center of Excellence and the selection of Dr. Pazdur to lead it.”

CNN reports that “one initiative is intended to expedite researchers’ access to cancer compounds.” Right now, “it can take a scientist up to 18 months to negotiate with each individual company to get access to material.” However, “under the Moonshot, the National Cancer Institute will work with 20 to 30 biotech and pharmaceutical companies to speed access to these compounds through one pre-approved list.”

Tech Times points out that at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, Biden said, “Imagine if we all worked together…shared the data behind breakthroughs so that the field as a whole can move forward faster and avoid unnecessary redundancy.”

The Washington Post reports that “IBM’s supercomputer Watson…is teaming up with the Department of Veterans Affairs in a bid to revolutionize cancer care for veterans.” The Post adds that “under the IBM-VA partnership, Watson technology will be provided free for two years to the VA’s precision-oncology program.”

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