The Daily Rise: Tuesday, June 21

Human Trials for Zika Vaccine

Good news in the fight against Zika virus.

Morning Consult reports that two companies have received approval to begin human trials for a vaccine for Zika.  Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GenoOne Life Sciences will begin human trials with 40 people to “test for safety, tolerability and immunogenicity.” The trials could begin in just a few weeks.

“We plan to dose our first subjects in the next weeks and expect to report phase I interim results later this year,” Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim said in a statement.

Patients familiar with the drug approval process know that initial human trials are only the beginning of the long process to develop new treatments. But, it explains why we here at Patients Rising place such a high value on private sector innovation in our health care system.

Lawmakers continue to debate approval of a federal response to Zika virus — with a final bill expected no sooner than early July. About the same time — innovators will begin human trials on a potentially life-saving new treatment.

State Spotlight: New Mexico Oncology Quality Program

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mexico is partering with the New Mexico Cancer Center on “a pilot program geared to helping cancer patients and their families find the right care, navigate through it and better cope with the multiple issues cancer patients face.”

Steve Sinovic at the Albequerque Journal writes, “the pilot phase of the Oncology Quality Program is available to commercial group members, said John Cook, vice president of network services. To qualify, patients must be diagnosed with one of the following types of cancer: breast, lung, colon, pancreatic, lymphoma, melanoma and thyroid.

The effort is being led by Dr. Barbara McAneny, who co-founded New Mexico Oncology Hematology Consultants. She said the pilot program dovetails with the oncology medical home concept she created and shared with six other cancer centers around the country. That nearly $20 million project was funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.”

This is exactly the type of innovative care models we need to be looking at. Not rationing care. Not denying access to care. Meeting the needs of the patient as quickly as possible with as few road blocks as possible.  According to UnitedHealth, 24% of cancer treatments costs come from the actual medicines, 54% facility costs for both in patient and out patient care and 22% to doctor fees. Everyone has a role to play in getting the right patient, to the right treatment, right now and we applaud this effort.

More of this, please.

Marathon Number 97

Another day, another marathon for Don Wright.

Over the weekend, Don completed his 97th marathon while on active treatment for cancer. In just under 7 hours, Don completed the 2016 Vancouver USA Marathon.

“The beauty of it is I’m supposed to be dead and I’m running marathons,” Wright told the Columbian.

Don Wright personifies what can be achieved with modern medical advances. Now on his 5th different treatment, innovation has kept Don running for 13 years.


The American Medical Association is formally opposed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposal to slash reimbursement rates under the Part B program.

Last week, the group approved a resolution calling for CMS to withdraw its proposal, MedPageToday reports. The country’s largest association of physicians believes that the proposal “would significantly undermine the ability of physician practices to meet the significant administrative and financial burdens associated with the rapidly evolving healthcare environment.”

One Bronx based ob/gyn perfectly summed up the opinion of AMA members who “spoke uniformly against the proposal.”

“This is a patient care issue and an access issue,” said Dr. Heather Smith, a representative of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “This will impact care of our patients, especially those with ovarian cancer.”

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