Policy Center

NCCR Statement: 2016 State of the Union cancer research initiative


The National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR) today commended President Obama and Vice President Biden for the cancer “Moonshot” initiative announced during the State of the Union Address on Tuesday.

“NCCR commends and embraces the Administration’s bold plan to significantly accelerate the pace of cancer research and foster greater collaboration among those involved in this effort,” said Wendy K.D. Selig, President of NCCR.

“We are living in an era of unprecedented advances in our understanding of cancer, which have led to the development of treatments that were unthinkable a short time ago such as cancer immunotherapy and targeted cancer therapeutics. We must harness the expertise, commitment and energy of the scientific and patient communities throughout the world to continue and build on that knowledge,” said Selig.

“Passage of the bipartisan “21st Century Cures Act” by the House of Representatives signaled an important step forward in this conquest. NCCR looks forward to working closely with the Administration, bipartisan Congressional leaders and our colleagues in the cancer community to ensure the resources and strategies are in place to to make the laudable and obtainable goal of a decade worth of advances in five years a reality,” said Selig.

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NCCR Comment Letter to FDA

Human Subjects Research Protections: Enhancing Protections for Research Subjects and Reducing Burden, Delay and Ambiguity for Investigators.

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21st Century Cures Act of 2015

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Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriations

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NCCR Response to FDA on Drug Shortages

NCCR responds to Food and Drug Administration Drug Shortages Task Force and Strategic Plan; Request for Comments

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NCCR Comment Letter

FDA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Permanent Discontinuance or Interruption in Manufacturing of Certain Drug or Biological Products

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Cancer Program Appropriations

The National Coalition for Cancer Research (NCCR) is an active member of One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), a collaboration of national non-profit organizations representing millions of Americans, which delivers a unified message to Congress and the White House on the need for increased cancer-related federal appropriations.

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Health Insurance Coverage for Clinical Trials

National Coalition for Cancer Research worked tirelessly to secure a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to require health plans to provide coverage of routine patient costs associated with clinical trial participation. We are working with our colleagues in the research community to ensure the implementing regulations provide the maximum health insurance coverage for clinical trial participants. These include:
• Prevention of Delays and Administrative Barriers – We encourage the Secretary to establish explicit safeguards protecting individuals with cancer from delays and administrative barriers that undermine access to clinical trials.
• Prevention, Detection, and Treatment of Complications – We encourage inclusion of explicit safeguards to ensure that the prevention, detection, and treatment of complications arising from clinical trials are covered by group health plans and insurance issuers as routine patient costs under Section 2709 of the Public Health Service Act.
• Geographic Safeguard to Preserve Local Access – Implementing regulations should prevent group health plans and insurance issuers from requiring patients to travel extensive distances to enroll in a clinical trial with an in-network provider.
• Clear Coverage Information for Enrollees – There should be safeguards to ensure patients are informed in an unambiguous manner as to whether or not their group health plan or insurance issuer covers the routine costs associated with participation in clinical trials.
• Referral to Specialists – Implementing rules should prevent financial incentives arising from Accountable Care Organizations or other new delivery models from inadvertently creating barriers for patients to participate in clinical trials.
• Method for Consumer Reporting – There should be a clear and effective mechanism for reporting concerns relating to the coverage of clinical trials.

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Addressing Drug Shortage

According to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, there were 211 reported drug shortages for calendar year 2010. In 2011, the number of drug shortages increased to nearly 300. Of these, nearly one-third were for the treatment of cancer or cancer symptoms. The shortage of some cancer drugs is not just affecting patients currently undergoing treatment, but it is also having a significant negative impact on current and future cancer clinical trials. These shortages have resulted in important cancer clinical trials being delayed, suspended and/or halting the accrual of new patients.

NCCR is committed to working with bipartisan Members of Congress to address this urgent issue. As an initial means to address drug shortages, NCCR supports H.R. 2245 and S. 296, the “Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act of 2011.” This legislation would to require the manufacturer of a prescription drug marketed in interstate commerce to notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) of a discontinuance or interruption in the manufacture of the drug.

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Nurse Workforce Development

The “Nurse Reinvestment Act” (NRA), designed to address the current and expected nursing shortage, was signed into law on August 1, 2002. A few years ago, the most significant factor associated with the nursing shortage was a lack of interested and qualified applicants. However, due to the efforts of the nursing and cancer communities, the number of applicants is growing. Now, the greatest challenge is that the nation faces a serious shortage of faculty available to teach and train new nurses.

• According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report on 2010-2011 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 67,563 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2010 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Almost two-thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into their programs.

• A serious concern is a study released by the Southern Regional Board of Education (SREB) in February 2002, a serious shortage of nursing faculty was documented in 16 SREB states and the District of Columbia. Survey findings show that the combination of faculty vacancies (432) and newly budgeted positions (350) points to a 12% shortfall in the number of nurse educators needed. Unfilled faculty positions, resignations, projected retirements, and the shortage of students being prepared for the faculty role pose a threat to the nursing education workforce over the next five years.

Oncology nurses are on the front-lines of the provision of quality cancer care and contribute significantly to cancer research. Each day they utilize highly-specialized skills to coordinate and administer the compassionate, comprehensive, high-quality cancer treatment and supportive care that people with cancer need and deserve. Specifically, oncology nurses play an essential role in administering chemotherapy, managing patient therapies and side-effects, providing counseling to patients and family members, documenting important information in patient charts, triaging patient questions and problems during the day, as well as during non-business hours, in addition to many other daily acts on behalf of people with cancer and their families.

A recently released study by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center projects that the number of adults 65 and older who will be diagnosed with cancer will rise from 1 million in 2010 to 1.6 million in 2030, a 67% increase. At the same time, the national nursing shortage is expected to worsen. With an increasing number of people needing comprehensive cancer care – coupled with an inadequate nursing workforce – our nation could quickly face a cancer care crisis of serious proportion, with limited access to quality care, particularly in traditionally underserved areas.

NCCR Position

In order to address the current and future nursing workforce shortage, NCCR urges Congress to, at a minimum, allocate $______________ to federal nursing workforce development programs to ensure enough resources to fund a higher rate of nursing scholarships and loan repayment applications and to support other essential endeavors to sustain and boost our nation’s nursing workforce.

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