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Vice President Biden speaks during a signing
ceremony for the 21st Century Cures Act in December in Washington. The
bill will provide increased funding for medical research, including the
cancer moonshot initiative led by Biden. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Vice President Biden, who led the Obama administration’s
“cancer moonshot” initiative, will create a nonprofit organization to
grapple with a broad range of cancer issues, including the high cost of
cancer drugs, he said in an interview Wednesday.
going to begin a national conversation and get Congress and advocacy
groups in to make sure these treatments are accessible for everyone,
including these vulnerable underserved populations, and that we have a
more rational way of paying for them while promoting innovation,” Biden
new nonprofit group, Biden said, will focus on many “moonshot” issues,
including the need to knock down “silos” in cancer research and share
research data and medical records more widely, boosting participation in
clinical trials, and finding new ways to improve treatment provided by
community oncologists. He said he also wanted to work on reducing racial
disparities in diagnosis and treatment.
president, who lost his son, Beau, to brain cancer in May 2015, didn’t
focus much on drug prices during his almost year-long sprint to
accelerate progress against cancer. Part of the reason, he said, was
that there were many other issues to pursue. But another reason was that
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton, a harsh critic of the pharmaceutical industry, had asked him
to continue running the moonshot effort after he left the White House,
and drug costs “was one of the points on the agenda,” he said.
Now, Biden said, he is getting strong encouragement from throughout the cancer community to grapple with the pricing issue. “The
researchers, the insurers, all of the major cancer centers . . . want
me to pursue it.” He added that Greg Simon, executive director of the
White House Moonshot Task Force, recently met with the pharmaceutical
company officials. “They all realize they have a problem,” the vice
In December, President-elect
Donald Trump also spoke out against pharmaceutical-industry price hikes.
“I'm going to bring down drug prices,” he told Time magazine.
new cancer nonprofit organization, which Biden will head, will be based
in either Wilmington, Del., or Washington, he said. Inside the White
House, the organization is being referred to as the Biden Cancer
Initiative, but the final name could be different. More details are
expected in early February.
The organization won’t be
affiliated with any particular cancer center — a decision designed to
avoid the appearance of playing favorites among institutions that
compete aggressively for grants, patients and top researchers. The group
won’t make grants, though it will raise funds to support its own
of Biden’s post-White House plans has been circulating for some time.
In September, he told the publication Stat that he would work on cancer
issues for the rest of his life but didn’t provide details. In late
December, the Cancer Letter, a trade publication, reported that he was
planning to continue his moonshot work through a new institute or
foundation and that he would work on foreign policy out of the
University of Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, in a remark picked up by C-SPAN
during the swearing-in ceremony for the Senate, Biden said he planned to
“continue the cancer work” and would be “based out of Penn for foreign
In Wednesday’s interview, Biden said he would
have posts at both Penn and the University of Delaware, his alma mater.
Penn, he said, “wants me to advance
their diplomatic profile around the world, and to work on policy and
national security issues.” At Delaware, he will be working on domestic
policy ranging from violence against women to the criminal justice
system, he said. He declined to elaborate on the academic affiliations.
White House Cancer Moonshot initiative was announced by President Obama
in his State of the Union address this year. The initiative generated
some skepticism among scientists who said that beating cancer was far
more complicated than putting a man on the moon, and required vast
increases in funding and a much greater understanding of the basic
biology of the disease.
pressed ahead, traveling the country to meet with researchers and
clinicians and repeatedly calling, sometimes angrily, for greater data
sharing and collaboration. In September, the National Cancer Institute's
blue-ribbon panel proposed 10 ways to speed progress against the
disease. And late last year, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act,
which provides almost $5 billion in new funding for the National
Institutes of Health, including $1.8 billion for cancer moonshot
the waning days of the administration, he continues to work on the
moonshot. On Friday, he will host a meeting of vendors of electronic
health records, physicians and patient advocates on how to make it
easier for individual patients to get access to their medical records so
they can share them with other doctors or provide the data to
Article by Laurie McGinley and originally posted on The Washington Post.
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