Obama Launches Cancer Moonshot Task Force

President Barack Obama officially launched the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, with the aim of advancing cancer research.

While its functions are described as “advisory only,” the task force will identify unnecessary regulatory barriers that stand in the way of developing new cancer treatments. The group will offer suggestions to increase access to new research, data and computational capabilities.

Members of the task force — which will be chaired by Vice President Joe Biden — include the heads of the FDA, HHS, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health, among others. The task force will present a report to the president before Dec. 31, which will be available to the public

Funding for the task force will be provided by NIH.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) applauded the administration’s effort, describing it as “about time.” He also touted the House’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, as well as the Senate’s work on its own biomedical innovation legislation.

Peter Pitts, president and founder of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA associate commissioner, tells CTA that it is good to keep the issue of drug development at the bully pulpit, but that there is a “high degree of naivety” of how difficult it is to solve a problem like cancer.

“We don’t need science fiction; we need science,” Pitts says, noting that Biden will be out of office by next year, and that there are very few “Eureka!” moments when it comes to drug development.

Pitts adds that he believes the president should ask HHS to appoint an innovation czar to make the most of resources allocated to that department, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other relevant agencies.

Read the White House memorandum here: www.fdanews.com/01-29-16-MoonshotCuresMemo.pdf. — Michael Cipriano


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