Cancer Moonshot Misses the Target

Tinker Ready, HealthLeaders Media: February 11, 2016

Hospitals don’t have much to gain from the moonshot, at least in the short run. There are lots of other pressing, fixable problems with cancer care that the Obama administration’s effort won’t address. […]

Let’s assume billions for research are well spent. Everyone is happy when we fund cancer research. Why be a buzz kill? Because, in reality, there are a whole lot of other problems with the way we develop and deliver the treatments we already have.

Prevention and Care Delivery

The Cancer Moonshot might do a lot more to improve the prospects for cancer patients by looking beyond cures and paying attention to problems with cancer care delivery, costs, access and prevention. With hospitals’ fortunes now tied to outcomes and population health, they should be looking for breakthroughs in those areas, not toward another marginally effective $100,000 drug.

Diana Zuckerman is a former Congressional aide and long-time DC-based women’s health advocate. She is one of the founders of the Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund, a non-profit group that promotes cancer risk reduction and helps patients “in choosing the safest and most effective” treatments.

Zuckerman supports additional research funding. She’s just not sure the moonshot will change much.

“This administration has a year left,” she said “What are they going to accomplish? It takes more than a year. We’ve had so many wars on cancer and we’ve had a lot of progress. But If you want to make meaningful progress, you don’t [just] throw money at a problem for a year.”

Her wish list: Zuckerman would like to see more FDA scrutiny, both before and after approval, of marginally effective cancer drugs. Costs are another issue and one way to keep them down would be to prevent drug makers from charging so much for treatments made possible by publically funded NIH research. Like the moonshot. […]

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