Saturday, May 26, 2018
Health

Biden threatens funding cut if cancer trials conceal results

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden threatened Wednesday to pull federal funding for cancer studies that fail to publicly disclose their results, putting pressure on researchers, clinicians and drug companies to speed up progress toward cancer cures.

Hosting a cancer summit in Washington, Biden said the culture in the cancer research world is stifling progress, and he said was "committed to doing everything in my power" to change that culture. He cited concerns that prominent medical institutions that receive millions in taxpayer dollars are flouting a federal rule that says they must submit their results to a publicly accessible database within a year.

"Doc, I'm going to find out if it's true, and if it's true, I'm going to cut funding," Biden said. "That's a promise."

For months, Biden has been imploring cancer researchers to share their data and trial results more freely, so that scientists can build on each other's progress and more readily identify treatments that might work for individual patients. His ultimatum at the summit was the first time Biden has suggested failure to heed that call could lead to National Institutes of Health grants being terminated.

There's no mechanism in place to enforce the mandate that trials results be quickly posted to clinicaltrials.gov , where patients and their doctors can identify treatments that have been effective for other patients. The Obama administration is developing a rule to crack down on those who ignore the requirement, the White House said.

At the summit, the showpiece of Biden's yearlong "moonshot," the vice president said the world was "on the cusp of breakthroughs." Yet he suggested the cancer community was essentially standing in its own way. He called out drug companies for unnecessary price increases and major research hospitals for insufficient collaboration.

"It's not anybody's fault, but we've got to fix it," Biden said.

Cancer researchers and their institutions have pushed back on those critiques, arguing they already share reams of data and partner frequently with each other and the government. They've also cited major hurdles imposed by federal agencies with intense bureaucratic requirements that make it near-impossible to develop treatments quickly and get them approved for patients — a concern that Biden acknowledged.

For Biden, the conference comes as time is running out to make good on his pledge to double the rate of progress toward a cure before leaving office. Biden had hoped to dramatically boost government activity on cancer, but his campaign has run up against the same political and logistical obstacles that have challenged other White House priorities.

To fund Biden's effort, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1 billion over two budget years for research. Only a fraction has been approved. So Biden's focus has shifted to trying to highlight and streamline private and nonprofit research efforts.

To illustrate what's on the cutting edge, the Energy Department and the National Cancer Institute announced new programs to analyze cancer data with supercomputers, plus another computing program teaming up with drug maker GlaxoSmithKline to speed up drug development. IBM unveiled plans to donate its Watson supercomputing technology to help Veterans Affairs ramp up its precision medicine program by sequencing the genomics of tumors for 10,000 patients over two years.

"Those are the types of partnerships that really start to push things forward," IBM Watson Health Vice President Steve Harvey said in an interview. "We kind of need each other in this journey."

Biden, who was introduced at the summit by comedian Carol Burnett, seemed mindful of the concern that he's pursuing a personal mission to address an issue that's affected his family. Biden declared the cancer "moonshot" last year after his son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, died of brain cancer.

"This isn't about him, it's not about a single person, it's about us," Biden said. "Not giving up hope. And having the urgency of now."

Contact Josh Lederman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Comments
Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Arto Woods and his wife, Syvilla, had a good flight from Baltimore to Tampa in early May. En route, they talked about how convenient it would have been to fly directly into Orlando, where the conference that brought them to Florida was being held, bu...
Published: 05/25/18
Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Before I attended my first yoga retreat on a trip to see my sister in Oregon, I did exactly zero preparation. Turns out, that’s just fine, and it opened up the wider world of what a yoga getaway can give you.With four hours of yoga classes a day, my ...
Published: 05/25/18
Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music is the ultimate mood setter. Faster beats gets us pumped up to work out. A slower rhythm can set a romantic mood or help one unwind at the end of a long day.Music can also influence the kinds of food we crave. A study co-authored by a Universit...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18