Oncology NEWS International Vol 4 No 1

MDs Fear Managed Care Equals Lower-Quality Care

January 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Yogi Berra had the last word at a panel discussion on health-care reform sponsored by the Medical Society of the State of New York. Television talk show host Larry King moderated the discussion and fielded the caustic remarks of doctors, pharmacists, and medical students who packed a Waldorf-Astoria ballroom to debate whether quality medical care can be maintained under health-care reform.

Dallas Medical Center Launches Umbilical Stem Cell Project

January 01, 1995

DALLAS--Two pediatricians at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have established the Umbilical Stem Cell Project to procure, test, and store human umbilical cord and placental blood for use as an alternative to bone marrow in allogeneic transplant patients who lack a related compatible marrow donor.

European Trials Show Dose-Related Efficacy of Docetaxel In Metastatic Breast Cancer, Value of Steroid Pretreatment

January 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Studies from the Breast Cancer Cooperative Group and the Clinical Screening Group of the Euro-pean Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) have spotlighted docetaxel (Taxotere) as a promising second- and first-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer. What's more, the EORTC findings indicate that steroid premedication can delay the fluid retention that frequently limits therapy with this taxoid.

Ethyol Approved for Use in the UK

January 01, 1995

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa--The Medicines Control Agency, the regulatory agency for the United Kingdom, has granted a product license for the marketing of Ethyol (amifostine), manufactured by U.S. Bioscience, Inc.

Success of Breast Conserving Surgery Is Not Diminished in Community Setting

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The effectiveness of breast conservation surgery, as measured by survival of breast cancer patients, is similar to that of mastectomy in day-to-day medical practice, as well as in randomized clinical studies, according to a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO).

Assessment Tools Are Essential to Improve Management of Pain

January 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Health-care professionals treating pain are hindered by the lack of an objective way to measure pain, says Johns Hopkins researcher Fannie Gaston-Johansson, DrMedSc, who has introduced a new device that may help the situation (see figure).

Undertreating Pain Costs Money in the Long Run, Physician Warns

January 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Despite its aim of cost containment, health-care reform threatens to increase the economic toll of pain because it may encourage undertreatment, Daniel Carr, MD, said at a media briefing on pain, sponsored by the American Medical Association and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Corp.

After 5 Years as Head, Dr. Broder Plans to Resign His Post at NCI

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Samuel Broder, MD, head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for the past 5 years, says that he will resign his post in April of this year. He will join IVAX Corporation (Miami), a manufacturer of generic drugs and IV drug delivery devices, where he plans to work on developing new drugs.

EORTC Endometrial Ca Trial Challenges Findings From GOG

January 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Doxorubicin coupled with cisplatin (Platinol) confers a distinct survival edge over the anthracycline alone in women with advanced inoperable or recurrent endometrial carcinoma, according to the latest findings of the Gynaecological Cancer Cooperative Group (GCCG) of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).

Heterosexual AIDS Cases Up Sharply, But Numbers Remain Small

January 01, 1995

BETHESDA, Md--As expected, the number of reported AIDS cases increased substantially in 1993 due to the expansion of the surveillance case definition in January of that year, but an adjusted analysis shows only a slight overall increase.

Antibiotic Regimen Leads to Lymphoma Regression

January 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Recent evidence linking low-grade gastric lymphoma with chronic Helicobacter pylori infection, which is said to trigger antigenic stimulation and lymphoid cell invasion of the stomach mucosa, has raised the provocative question of whether eradication of H. pylori infection can cure gastric lymphoma.

Look for Incremental Insurance Reform Steps With New Congress

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Republican control of the US Congress means that the chance for comprehensive health-care reform, as envisioned by the Clinton administration, is over. But incremental changes to the health-care system, including insurance reforms that limit or exclude preexisting condition clauses, may gain significant support, says Stacey Beckhardt, of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Court Upholds Patents on AZT

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled in favor of Burroughs-Wellcome, the manufacturer of zidovudine (Retrovir or AZT), on five of six patents that had been challenged by two pharmaceutical companies hoping to win the right to produce a generic version of the drug. The ruling should provide the company with a monopoly on zidovudine until the year 2005.

Advances Reported in Phase I/II Trials of Radioimmunotherapy for Breast Cancer

January 01, 1995

PRINCETON, NJ--New approaches in radioimmunotherapy for patients with advanced breast cancer have had promising preliminary results, according to research presented at the Fifth Conference on Radioimmunodetection and Radioimmunotherapy of Cancer.

Zeneca Agrees to Purchase 50% Interest in Salick Health Care, Inc.

January 01, 1995

LONDON, UK--As Oncology News International (ONI) went to press, we received news that Zeneca Group PLC has agreed to buy a 50% interest in Salick Health Care, Inc (Los Angeles). The agreement is subject to shareholder approval and US regulatory review, the company said.

New UN Program Hopes to Begin Large-Scale Trials of AIDS Vaccines in 1996

January 01, 1995

GENEVA, Switzerland--A newly established United Nations AIDS program based in Geneva has announced plans to initiate large-scale clinical trials of two HIV vaccines as early as mid-1996, probably in Brazil and Thailand. Dr. Peter Piot, chief of research at the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS, will head the new group, which will involve six UN agencies.

Canadians Wait Longer for Radiotherapy Than US Patients

January 01, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO--Delays for radiation treatment are longer in Ontario than in the United States, Canadian researchers reported in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO).

Limiting 'Futile' Treatment for Terminal Patients Saves Few Dollars

January 01, 1995

HANOVER, NH--Results of a multicenter study debunk the view that limiting 'futile' life-sustaining treatments for terminally ill patients will produce significant health-care savings. "Cutting off care through strict 'futility guidelines' will save few dollars and not much suffering," said Joanne Lynn, MD, of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

DNA Ploidy May Predict Course of Prostate Cancer

January 01, 1995

CHICAGO--DNA ploidy in needle biopsy specimens is proving to be a highly accurate method of predicting local and distant spread of prostate cancer, as well as the probability of recurrence, Matthew Rifkin, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Combination Antiemetic Regimen Proves 90% Effective in Italian Study

January 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Combining granisetron (Kytril), a 5-HT3 antagonist, with high and repeated doses of dexamethasone yields superior protection against nausea and vomiting than either agent alone in cancer patients receiving moderately emetogenic antineoplastic agents, Dr. Maurizio Tonato reported on behalf of the Italian Group for Antiemetic Research.

Purging Grafts Via CD34+ Cell Selection May Show Benefits

January 01, 1995

NASHVILLE--Results of a trial of positive-selection purging in breast cancer patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy/autologous bone marrow or peripheral blood transplantation show that patients who have no evidence of breast cancer in the graft after purging have longer progression-free survival at a median follow-up of 18 months than patients who have persistent evidence of tumor. Purging is performed by selection of CD34+ marrow or peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPCs).

FDA Clears Semisynthetic Taxol

January 01, 1995

ROCKVILLE, Md--The Food and Drug Administration has approved a semisynthetic source of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company's anticancer agent Taxol (paclitaxel), produced from renewable Taxus baccata plant sources.

NIH and Private Industry in Legal Battle over Breast Cancer Gene Patent

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is disputing the commercial rights to the newly discovered breast cancer gene BRCA1. In a move that could affect how much women pay for screening when such a test becomes available, scientists at the University of Utah and Myriad Genetics, Inc. failed to include NIH as a collaborator when it applied to patent the gene. The NIH has filed a counter application.

Self-Referral Statute Requires Self-Scrutiny of Practices

January 01, 1995

This article launches a three-part series on Medicare fraud and abuse laws. It reviews the laws prohibiting self-referrals, which were expanded this month. Part 2, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Oncology News International reviews the federal statutes regarding false claims and offers advice to physicians on how to avoid any conflicts with the fraud and abuse laws. Part 3 will discuss the Medicare and Medicaid anti-kickback statute.

Rhône-Poulenc Forms Network To Develop Gene and Cell Therapies

January 01, 1995

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa--Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Inc. (Paris, France) has formed a new division, RPR Gencell, dedicated to the discovery, development, and commercialization of cell and gene therapy products. To accelerate such discoveries, the company has also created a biotechnology network comprising 14 biotech companies and academic research centers.

CATCH Study Hopes to Nip Children's Bad Nutritional and Behavior Habits in the Bud

January 01, 1995

TARRYTOWN, NY--A nationwide study to test whether a multidimensional approach can change schoolchildren's nutritional habits and behavior for the better is nearing its final stage, Elaine Stone, PhD, of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said at a symposium marking the 25th anniversary of the American Health Foundation.

Dr. Fisher Defends Work, Calls Government Actions 'Chilling'

January 01, 1995

The following are excerpts from a speech given by Bernard Fisher, MD, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Fall 1994 Educational Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

PSA Interpretation and Testing Can Be Made More Effective

January 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Although it has revolutionized the early detection of prostate cancer, PSA testing can, and must, be improved to become the powerful tool needed in the fight against this disease, H. Ballentine Carter, MD, said at a conference on prostate cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Nutritional Oncology Is a New Weapon in Cancer Treatment

January 01, 1995

DENVER, Colo--Although oncologists have long been concerned about cachexia and other nutritional problems in cancer patients, nutritional oncology, which includes nutritional assessment and intervention for cancer patients, is just beginning to emerge as a recognized medical discipline and as an important adjunct to standard cancer therapy.

FDA Oncology Drugs Committee Fails to Recommend Taxotere and Ethyol

January 01, 1995

ROCKVILLE, Md--To the surprise of many, the FDA Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee recommended that Taxotere (docetaxel, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer) not be approved for marketing at this time. The company was seeking approval of the drug for use in locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer when previous therapy with an anthracycline has failed, and in locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer after failure of platinum-based chemotherapy.

Glutathione May Prevent Cisplatin Toxicity, Raise Response Rates in Ovarian Cancer

January 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Glutathione shields against cisplatin (Platinol) toxicity in women with ovarian cancer, with no loss of antineoplastic efficacy, according to the findings of a study conducted at nine British oncology centers.

Laparoscopy May Have Limited Role In Prostate Cancer

January 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Initial enthusiasm accompanying the introduction of laparoscopy in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer has given way to a more realistic assessment of its value, R. Ernest Sosa, MD, said at a conference on prostate cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital. It continues to have value, but its role is limited and is unlikely to broaden.

ASCO Names John Durant, MD, as Executive VP and Washington Lobbyist

January 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--John Durant, MD, has been named to the newly created position of executive vice president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Formerly president of ASCO and a member of its board of directors, Dr. Durant will become the society's leading spokesman and advocate in Washington on April 1. He is currently vice president for health affairs and director of the medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.