Vice President Joe Biden and the government-wide Cancer Moonshot Task Force have presented today a sweeping vision that, if realized, could change the face of cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and survivorship as we know it.
The wide-ranging recommendations detailed in the Vice President and Task Force reports would not only help accelerate the discovery of new cancer treatments, but also expand patient access to promising treatments. The Vice President and Task Force approached their work through a wide lens that puts central focus on the millions of Americans who face a cancer diagnosis each year by highlighting policies and efforts that would foster scientific breakthroughs and treatments for patients, make better use of data, strengthen prevention and diagnosis, and improve access to care.
ASCO is particularly pleased that the Cancer Moonshot Task Force report details a commitment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "to improve the use of science-based, clinically relevant eligibility criteria to allow greater patient access to clinical trials while maintaining patient safety." As specifically noted in the report, ASCO and Friends of Cancer Research are working with the FDA to change eligibility criteria to enable broader participation on clinical trials and ensure that trial participants are more reflective of the population of patients with cancer. This recommendation alone could dramatically increase the knowledge we could gain from scientific inquiry and the efficiency of clinical trial accrual, while also expanding patient access to cutting-edge intervention.
ASCO also appreciates that Vice President Biden and the Task Force highlight the need to make it easier for patients and providers to access and share health care information. Oncology practices are struggling with timely access to healthcare data, whether they are across town, in different states, or right next door to one another. Oncologists routinely care for patients with complicated cases in which radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, imaging, and pathology must all be carefully coordinated to ensure the highest quality care. In addition to the efforts outlined in the reports, it is vital for Congress to enact legislation to ensure widespread interoperability is achieved, including addressing information blocking.
Implementing the far-reaching vision of progress described by Vice President Biden and the Cancer Moonshot Task Force will take both committed effort and funding. In addition to sustained funding increases through the regular appropriations process, achieving the goals of the Cancer Moonshot requires a boost in funding from Congress. We call on Congress to come together in the upcoming lame duck session to pass a $2 billion appropriations increase for the National Institutes of Health and an additional boost in funding for the National Cancer Institute to support the Moonshot initiatives.