In this edition of the Innovation Partners BioBlog, several promising cancer treatments are in the spotlight. CMS approves Medicare coverage of NGS tests for inherited ovarian and breast cancer. A new team supported by $3 million in grants seeks earlier detection methods for gastric cancer. Blue Cross Blue Shield and Civica RX announced the launch of a subsidiary to produce generic drugs at a lower cost. These stories and more may be found in today’s edition of the Innovation Partners BioBlog.
CMS approves Medicare coverage of next-generation sequencing tests for inherited ovarian, breast cancers
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Medicare coverage of sequencing tests for inherited ovarian and breast cancers. Next-generation sequencing may help patients discover if they are good candidates for clinical trials. CMS gave a national coverage determination to extend Medicare coverage for immunotherapy drugs that comprise CAR T-cell therapy in August, 2019, and in 2020, also increased the new technology add-on payment from 50% to 65%. CMS can decide to provide an additional payment to a hospital for new technologies that can significantly improve clinical outcomes.
Newly updated formulary tool aims to help payers get early information on unapproved drugs
The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) updated its format for formulary submissions to include new ways for drug companies to share information on unapproved products. The goal is to enable payers to get access to drugs’ product information before they are approved in order to make faster decisions. It is especially helpful for drugs about 12 to 18 months away from FDA approval.
Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations and Civica Rx partner on lower cost generic drugs
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and 18 locally-operated, independent BCBS companies are partnering with Civica Rx to lower the cost of generic prescription drugs. The BCBS companies will provide $55 million to help create a Civica subsidiary and Civica will produce certain generics. Generics are limited to those taken outside of a hospital setting and to those that have a high price tag due to lack of competition.
Stand Up To Cancer Announces International Team on Early Detection of Gastric Cancer, World’s Third Leading Cause of Cancer Death
A new group, funded by $3 million in grants over a three-year period, will research early detection methods for gastric cancer. Stomach (gastric) cancer often goes undetected until it is in advanced stages. The new SU2C Gastric Cancer Interception Research Team will be headed by Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of cancer epidemiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The co-leader is Sandra Ryeom, PhD, associate professor of cancer biology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
Anti-cancer Drug Safe, Effective for Treating Light Chain (AL) Amyloidosis
Researchers have found that the anti-cancer drug, daratumumab, is well tolerated and effective in patients with relapsed AL amyloidosis when used with appropriate pre- and post-infusion medications. Twenty-two patients with AL amyloidosis enrolled in the study. The majority of the patients had received high-dose melphalan and stem cell transplantation (HDM/SCT) and/or treatment with a proteasome inhibitor. The researchers found daratumumab to be safe, tolerable and successful in treating these patients. They also believe daratumumab is an attractive treatment option for patients with advanced cardiac involvement with AL amyloidosis.
Mounting Data Support Combination
New findings detail large, clinically meaningful benefits in several patient-reported outcomes (PROs) following first-line treatment with combination atezolizumab/bevacizumab in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. These results from the phase III IMbrave150 trial document significant improvements in both overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) with upfront use of atezolizumab/bevacizumab in comparison with sorafenib.Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor that prevents tumor cell proliferation and angiogenesis, has long been the standard of care for patients with newly diagnosed unresectable HCC despite a decade-long search for a more effective and better-tolerated alternative.