HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Biden Cancer Plan Called Bold, Achievable

President Joe BidenThe goal of halving the cancer death rate will require advances in population-level research and eliminating disparities in care, the director of the National Cancer Institute said.

“It’s a bold goal, but achievable,” NCI Director Ned Sharpless told Bloomberg Law’s Jeannie Baumann. “But if we want to reduce mortality by 50% in 25 years, we’re going to have to invest in the science and technologies that will do that.”

The White House is set to launch a second iteration of Cancer Moonshot, one of Biden’s projects signature efforts under the Obama administration double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, treatment and detection. The Sharpless-led institute will play a critical role in driving the scientific advances that make Biden’s goal possible. “The NCI couldn’t be more central,” a senior administration official said, adding that the White House is building a cancer cabinet as the work expands beyond biomedical research. .

The next phase of the moonshot—Sharpless prefers a “supercharged” effort to a “re-energized” one since the 2016 initiative continues to run a robust program—must shift to population-level efforts to develop better ways to prevent and screen for cancer, he said. . It could support research, for example, to develop a test that could offer early detection of different cancers at once.

Research efforts targeted at specific communities would also help reduce inequities in cancer care, Sharpless said. “We play an important role in understanding how cancer care is delivered in the real world and how access to care shapes outcomes, and how barriers to care, in some cases, worsen outcomes” , did he declare.

The cancer death rate has declined in the United States overall, but certain populations continue to be hardest hit due to factors such as systemic racism in medicine, poverty, and lack of access to care. Black Americans have higher death rates for many types of cancer, and Americans in rural Appalachia have higher incidence rates for colorectal, lung and cervical cancers, the NCI found. “If we can take populations that have poor cancer outcomes and work against those disparities,” Sharpless said, that “would have a huge effect on cancer mortality at the population level.” Read more about Jeannie Baumann.

The coronavirus pandemic

CDC advisers approve Moderna vaccine: Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine received unanimous endorsement from a group of key health advisers after it was approved, a move that may help encourage vaccine hesitants. The 13-member Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Practices Advisory Committee voted on Friday to recommend the two-dose regimen for adults. Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the recommendation, making it official. Moderna’s vaccine, which will be sold under the brand name Spikevax, won full approval last week from the Food and Drug Administration. Fiona Rutherford has more.

CDC expands search for Covid-19 warnings in sewage: US public health officials are expanding their monitoring of Covid-19 in sewage, which has become a crucial early warning for jumps in infections. The CDC this week began sharing viral sewage trends on its public-facing Covid-19 data website. And the agency is expanding the number of locations from which raw sewage is monitored for rising or falling disease waves, adding hundreds of new sites in the coming months. Read more from Drew Armstrong.

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What else to know today

Ambulance companies urge Congress for help: Ambulance groups are asking Congress to include provisions in the upcoming pandemic supplemental funding that would delay Medicare sequestration cuts and provide provider relief funds to their industry. Ambulances and other first responders say they are being hit hard by the pandemic, citing $25 billion gobbled up in higher costs and lost reimbursements since March 2021 due to the delta and omicron variants. “We need more funding now more than ever and not less,” the coalition of groups, including the American Ambulance Association, told congressional leaders in a letter.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at [email protected]; Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]; Michaela Ross at [email protected]