Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on December 20, 2019


From a newly proposed rule to help lower prescription drug prices to an oncology nurse and a patient with cancer singing “O Holy Night,” here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

A proposed rule announced this week by the Trump Administration along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may help lower the cost of prescription drug prices.

If finalized, the new rule would allow certain prescription drugs to be imported from Canada under specific conditions to ensure there are no safety concerns. In addition, drug manufacturers would also have guidance that explains the importation of prescription drugs, including biological products that were originally intended for sale in another country.

“Today’s announcement outlines two pathways for the safe importation of certain prescription drugs to help provide safe, effective, more affordable drugs to American patients,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in an FDA press release. “These are historic actions by HHS and the FDA, and they represent the bold nature of President Trump’s agenda for lowering drug costs.”

Patients with cancer affected by the California wildfires can now receive emotional and financial support through a leading nonprofit organization.

The California Wildfires Patient Assistance Program is led by CancerCare, the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer, along with the help of other cancer and disaster organizations.

“We are saddened to see the devastation wreaked by the wildfires in California,” said CancerCare CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. “We are gratified to be able to assist cancer patients affected by these terrible fires. With our California Wildfires Patient Assistance Program, we can offer specialized practical and emotional support to those coping with both a cancer diagnosis and the distress caused by a natural disaster.”

To learn more, patients can call CancerCare's toll-free Hopeline, 800-813-HOPE (4673).

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has received an Ewing’s sarcoma diagnosis, which is a cancer that affects areas in and around the bones.

The 23-year-old athlete is undergoing additional testing and evaluations at the University of Pennsylvania, with a plan to begin treatment soon, per a statement from Chuck Fletcher, the president, and general manager of the Flyers.

The team supported Lindblom this week by wearing special “Oskar Strong” shirts during Thursday night’s game.

Lindblom shared his gratitude in an Instagram post: “The last week has been very challenging for me, but I’m so happy for all the love and strength you all are giving me on this journey. The support has been unreal and we are so thankful for everything - big thanks to all of you, it means a lot [sic]”

An oncology nurse in Tennessee helped spread Christmas cheer for one of her patient’s who is fighting an aggressive, fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Penn Pennington first received a follicular lymphoma diagnosis in 2010, and this past summer the cancer returned.

“When she came into the room, she was just so bubbly and so positive about trying to make sure that I felt comfortable, that I felt reassured that they were going to be on top of this and that they were going to be here for me,” Pennington told Today.

A lifelong musician, Pennington, and nurse Alex Collazo teamed up to sing — Pennington on the guitar. His daughter captured the moment and then posted it to Facebook.

They began with “Can’t Help Falling in Love” before turning to “O Holy Night.”

“We connected with our musical interest and I wanted to do something for him to help him forget that he was in the hospital and just bring him some happiness,” said Collazo. “So I brought him my guitar and here we are now.”

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