Personally, the AMA House of Delegate (AMA-HOD) gathering last month seemed to be more of a glimpse into the future. ASCO staff and delegates gathered in Atlanta and, as usual, listened, learned, and spoke on a number of topics.
Concern about rising pharmaceutical costs was a particularly hot topic. ASCO cosponsored a resolution to address the rising price of prescription drugs. The charge was that the AMA would convene a task force of all the relevant stakeholders focused on the development, approval, and cost of prescription drugs. This task force should have representation from physicians, physician researchers, pharmaceutical trade, the insurance trade, CMS, U.S. FDA, hospitals, and patient advocates. The primary purpose would be on assessing the relationship between drug development costs and actual market price, addressing mechanics to reduce the cost of new drugs as well as address the rise in generic drug costs. This task force would also assess the correlation between drug pricing and patient care access. The understanding is that ASCO would have representation in that task force. Along with that resolution, we testified for a resolve against the practice of “brown bagging” medication. Pharmaceutical costs deserve much more continued attention. More ASCO-driven thoughts concerning drug pricing will be coming soon to the AMA-HOD.
Another glimpse of the future was our interaction with the medical student section. They had come to us with a resolution that dove into the subject of concurrent care (that could include cytotoxic therapy) in the hospice setting. This topic was discussed with their testimony in our cancer caucus. Their resolution ultimately was referred for further study. The resolve was primarily hung up on confusion around not only financial coverage issues but also the terms “palliation, curative, and hospice services.” However, what was impressive to all was our interaction with this young group of future physicians. We were impressed with their presentation, their ideas, and their passion. These young doctors represent our future and we hope to they will become a continued presence in our caucus. They represent the real glimpse into the future.
Many other topics were discussed. Many new relationships and networking opportunities were formed. Unquestionably, time spent to nurture these relationships is a very crucial element of ASCO’s future in this body.
As one year draws to a close and another begins, I am continually impressed with the AMA HOD. It continues to inform and serve as a place where thoughts can be heard (although admittedly, sometimes to great objections). In summation, the HOD can get so much done in a collective way and will remain so. I would like to recognize and thank all the ASCO delegation (Drs. Barbara McAneny, Tom Marsland, Kristina Novick, and Ray Page, and staff Ms. Monica Tan and Ms. Kristin McDonald). We may not always agree, but that’s a very good healthy thing.
We all look forward to the upcoming year… It should be very interesting.