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ACS News Minute: ACS leads effort to improve cancer care in Africa

ACS and the Clinton Health Access Initiative are collaborating to bring less expensive and higher quality cancer medications to sub-Saharan Africa.

Thanks to groundbreaking market access agreements with Pfizer Inc. and Cipla Inc., access to 16 essential cancer treatment medications will be expanded in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

In this latest ACS News Minute, Meg O'Brien, PhD, managing director, Global Cancer Treatment, explains more. Watch now!

  • ACS CAN: New youth tobacco data highlights need for continued CDC tobacco prevention and control funding

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  on June 15 released data from its National Youth Tobacco Survey that found tobacco use among youth in grades 6-12 has decreased in recent years.

    In 2016, 3.9 million middle school and high school students used tobacco products, down from 4.7 million students in 2015. The data also showed youth electronic cigarette use declined from 5.3 percent to 4.3 percent for middle school students, and from 16 percent to 11.3 percent for high school students. This is the first decline in e-cigarette use since 2011, yet the devices remain the most commonly used tobacco product among this age group.

    A statement about the survey results from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:

    “It’s great news to see a decrease in both conventional and electronic cigarette use among our nation’s youth. This progress demonstrates the critical importance of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH), which leads federal efforts to reduce tobacco-related death and disease, including essential youth prevention programs.

    “While the data is promising, it remains that nearly 4 million youth used at least one tobacco product last year. Proposals in Congress to eliminate OSH and its cost-effective public health programs, including state prevention programs, tobacco quit lines and the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign, could jeopardize future progress reducing tobacco’s burden.

    “We urge lawmakers to maintain current funding for OSH in their FY 18 budget deliberations. OSH’s work is critical to reducing smoking rates, saving lives from tobacco use, and ending our nation’s tobacco epidemic.”

    Tobacco prevention strategies credited for declining smoking rates

    The report notes that tobacco prevention and control strategies at the national, state, and local levels likely contributed to the reduction in tobacco use, particularly for e-cigarettes. 

    “Far too many young people are still using tobacco products, so we must continue to prioritize proven strategies to protect our youth from this preventable health risk,” said CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, MD.

    “While these latest numbers are encouraging, it is critical that we work to ensure this downward trend continues over the long term across all tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. “The FDA has invested heavily in compelling, science-based education campaigns, such as ‘The Real Cost,’ that have already helped prevent nearly 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes, and continues to enforce important youth access restrictions. We plan to build on these vital efforts to reduce tobacco-related disease and death.”

    Current smokers were defined as students having used a tobacco product in the past 30 days.

    Below are other highlights from the report:

    •  Among current tobacco users in 2016, 47.2 percent of high school students and 42.4 percent of middle school students used two or more tobacco products.
    • The report found that 20.2 percent of high school students and 7.2 percent of middle school students reported current use of any tobacco product. 
    • E-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among youth for the third consecutive year, used by 11.3 percent of high school and 4.3 percent of middle school students. 
    • Although the data reflect a decline during 2015-2016, current use of any tobacco product did not change significantly during 2011–2016, because of the sharp increases in e-cigarettes and hookah during 2011–2014.
    • Among all high school students in 2016, the most commonly used products after e-cigarettes were: cigarettes (8.0 percent), cigars (7.7 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.8 percent), hookah (4.8 percent), pipe tobacco (1.4 percent), and bidis (0.5 percent).
    • Among all middle school students in 2016, the most commonly used products after e-cigarettes were: cigarettes (2.2 percent), cigars (2.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (2.2 percent), hookah (2.0 percent), pipe tobacco (0.7 percent), and bidis (0.3 percent).
    • Among non-Hispanic white and Hispanic high school students, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product. Among non-Hispanic black high school students, cigars were most commonly used.
    • Cigarette use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than among non-Hispanic blacks; smokeless tobacco use was higher among non-Hispanic whites than other races.

  • Society and Clinton Health Access Initiative collaborate with Pfizer and Cipla to increase access to cancer treatment in Africa

    ACS and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) today announced two separate groundbreaking agreements with Pfizer Inc. and Cipla Inc. to expand access to 16 essential cancer treatment medications, including chemotherapies, in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

    An estimated 44% of all cancer cases that occur in sub-Saharan Africa each year occur in these six countries. The agreements will set competitive prices on the medicines, thus allowing African governments to realize substantial savings while improving the quality of available treatment.  

    The collaboration is part of a broader effort led by ACS and supported by CHAI to improve the market environment for cancer care in Africa.  

    "For more than a hundred years, the American Cancer Society and our volunteers have led the fight for a world without cancer, and we're committed to making sure that the progress we've made in the United States is not limited to our borders," stated Gary M. Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society, in apress release.  "Every person with cancer deserves access to treatment, no matter where they live. Collaborating with companies like Pfizer and Cipla is a critical next step toward leveling the playing field for people with cancer and saving lives in this part of the world."

    Two of the barriers to improving cancer care in Africa have been limited access to treatments that have been used in higher-income countries for decades, and the proliferation of counterfeit cancer drugs sold at premium prices.

    Patients are almost twice as likely to die of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa than the U.S. The five-year survival rate for women with breast cancer in the U.S. is 90%, but in Uganda it's just 46%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Cancer kills more people in the region than either malaria or tuberculosis. By 2030, WHO estimates that for every four deaths from HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, there will be three deaths from cancer.

    "The state of cancer treatment in Africa today is very reminiscent of the challenges faced when working to increase access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS over a decade ago," stated CHAI CEO Ira Magaziner. "While cancer treatments and the tools for early diagnosis are readily available in developed countries, market forces and other barriers have limited access in Africa. As was done for the HIV/AIDS crisis before it, this public-private collaboration will help revolutionize cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa and has the potential to save thousands of lives each year."

    To help develop and sustain the volume pricing structure announced today, ACS and CHAI are working with IBM Health Corps, a pro bono consulting program, to develop and deploy ChemoQuant, a chemotherapy forecasting software to help countries quantify their cancer medicine needs and plan budgets and procurement. Uganda is now beginning to use the software and five additional countries are expected to follow suit by year's end.

    "When the American Cancer Society approached us last year to help bring to life their ideas for fighting cancer in the world's most neglected areas, we knew this was the start of something powerful," said Jennifer Ryan Crozier, IBM's VP of Corporate Citizenship and president of IBM's International Foundation. "By bringing together IBM's expertise in cognitive computing, analytics, and software design expertise with the experience and vision of ACS, we have laid the foundation for transformational work in cancer care."

    The cancer burden is mounting in sub-Saharan Africa and deaths remain high due to late diagnosis and lack of treatment. In 2012, there were an estimated 626,000 new cases of cancer and 447,000 cancer deaths in the region. Deaths from cancer are expected to almost double by 2030 due to aging populations. Yet global funding for cancer prevention and treatment in lower-income countries is far lower than other diseases including HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, amounting to less than 2% of global health spending. Facilitating access to high-quality, affordable chemotherapeutic agents is a critical step to improving cancer treatment, but many more issues need to be addressed, such as access to treatment facilities and workforce shortages. ACS and its partner organizations are committed to long- term strategies to address these barriers.

    The agreements are an important part of a larger strategy that ACS and CHAI are implementing with African health ministries to improve patient access to affordable, quality-approved oncology medicines and increase procurement capacity by governments. This includes:

    • Reducing reliance on middlemen and private distributors
    • Stabilizing prices
    • Rationalizing orders
    • Streamlining registration of products approved by a stringent regulatory authority
    • Promoting the entry of international suppliers with a range of quality-approved products

    Analysis of current procurement practices suggests that African governments could move to cost-competitive, quality-approved medicines while reducing current costs by more than half through effective implementation of these programs.

    The agreement with Pfizer includes the following medicines:

    • Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Docetaxel, Doxorubicin, Epirubicin, Fluorouracil, Gemcitabine, Leucovorin, Methotrexate, Oxaliplatin, Paclitaxel

    The agreement with Cipla includes the following medicines:

    • Anastrazole, Bleomycin, Capecitabine, Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Cytarabine, Oxaliplatin, Vinblastine

    These market access agreements were negotiated by CHAI, who received funding and technical assistance from ACS for these efforts. ACS and CHAI plan to continue working together to pursue additional market access collaborations to advance this ongoing effort.

    Our CEO Gary Reedy writes about this on, a blogging platforrm. 

  • New ACS CAN structure to promote better integration and geographic alignment with the New ACS

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has announced a new structure that will foster better integration and better geographic alignment with the new American Cancer Society. This adjustment will help ACS CAN work more effectively and efficiently in support of public policies that help advance ACS' lifesaving mission.

    The new structure, which will take effect on July 1, will consist of three ACS CAN regions transitioning from the current four. Each of the new regions will correspond to a combination of two ACS regions. The ACS CAN Western Region will correspond to the ACS West and North Regions, the ACS CAN Central Region will correspond to the ACS North Central and South Regions and the ACS CAN Eastern Region will correspond to the ACS Northeast and Southeast Regions.

    The new model, which was developed after an extensive review of ACS CAN's current regional model and in consultation with ACS CAN colleagues across the country, will provide a more balanced and efficient staffing structure. Ultimately, it will build upon ACS CAN's impressive record of success and position the organization for even more advocacy wins that will help bring the enterprise closer to achieving its ultimate goal of saving more lives from cancer.

    "ACS CAN's close integration with ACS has always been critical to its success," said, ACS CAN President Chris Hansen. "Streamlining ACS CAN from the current four regions to a three-region structure will maintain a strong collaborative partnership with ACS, while efficiently and effectively supporting local, state and federal advocacy objectives."

    Ruth Parriott will serve as leader for the ACS CAN Western Region and will be based out of St. Paul, MN. Ruth joined ACS' National Government Relations Department in 1995 and has been instrumental in advocacy wins ranging from passage of comprehensive smoke-free legislation to implementation of the National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program. Robert Morris will serve as regional lead for the Central Region and will be based out of Gulfport, MS. Over Robert's 18-year tenure with the organization, he's held numerous positions within ACS including cancer control manager, regional vice president and division cancer control vice president for the former Mid-South Division. Paul Hull will serve as regional lead for the Eastern Region and will be based out of Jacksonville, FL. Paul joined ACS in 2002 and has more than 25 years of experience in the legislative, government relations and public policy arena. ACS CAN regional leadership will serve as liaisons to corresponding ACS Regional Leadership Teams to ensure seamless integration and real-time communication about advocacy activity in relevant areas within the regions.

    Questions about the new ACS CAN structure should be directed to Marissa Brown, senior vice president, State and Local Advocacy.

  • FDA delays overhaul of nutrition labels

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on June 13 that it is postponing the implementation of the final regulation to update the Nutrition Facts label. 

    The regulation applies to nutrition information that appears on most packaged foods, beverages, and supplements. The final regulation was set to take effect for large companies in July 2018, and for small companies the following year. The FDA has not announced a new implementation date.

    A statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

    “We’re concerned that the FDA’s indefinite delay of the updated Nutrition Facts label will weaken consumers’ ability to make nutritious food and beverage choices for themselves and their families.

    “Presenting easy to understand nutrition information is critical to improving overall public health and reducing the risk of more than 13 types of obesity-related cancer. We urge the FDA to reconsider the implementation dates.”

    The revamped nutrition facts panel was designed to make it easier for Americans to see how many calories and added sugars are in packaged foods and drinks. Plans call for the updated labeling to include:

    • Grams of “added sugars” as well as the percentage of recommended daily limit that this amount comprises
    • Making the serving size more closely reflect the actual amount that people typically eat.
    • Updating the daily recommended limits for sodium and the recommended daily values for dietary fiber and vitamin D 
    • Making "calories" and "serving size" larger and easier to see.
    • Labeling packages that are between one and two servings as one serving because people will typically consume the entire package in one sitting 

    The FDA explained that "the framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace." 

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other industry groups had asked for the deadline to be pushed to 2021, according to a letter sent earlier this year to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

    In a statement, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said food and beverage companies want to help people make informed choices, but the "fast-approaching compliance deadline" was difficult to meet without final guidance from the FDA on certain details. For instance, the association noted that the FDA still needs to evaluate whether some commonly used ingredients in food products can continue to be counted as fiber on the new panel.

    Jim O'Hara, director of health promotion policy for Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the delay will only cause confusion as some companies switch to the new label as planned, ahead of others.

    Candy maker Mars Inc., for instance, said it is still planning to start rolling out the new nutrition facts panel on select products in coming months and be in full compliance by next year.

  • Our national TV commercial debuts on the Golf Channel!

    As announced on June's Society Talk, the American Cancer Society now has its first national golf ambassador -- long-time partner Chris DiMarco, a three-time PGA Tour event winner and contributing broadcaster on the Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive."

    During the past 17 years, the DiMarco family has raised more than $5 million to support our mission by chairing our annual Norma & Rich DiMarco Tee Up For Life event in Orlando, Florida. Driven by his father’s recent death from pancreatic cancer, Chris is even more determined to help us. In addition, he lost three grandparents to cancer.

    During the past month, a cross-functional effort has been underway to create an integrated marketing plan to support this first-ever national golf campaign. The campaign is designed to drive awareness and participation for our national golf platform, which encompasses more than 70 tournaments and raises nearly $10 million annually.

    Today, this campaign makes its national debut on the Golf Channel. The ad, in which Chris talks about cancer stealing his hero, his dad, debuts on the Golf Channel today and will run through July 31. The timing could not be more perfect, as all eyes in the golfing world are on the 2017 U.S. Open June 12 - 18. Golf fans everywhere will see first-hand through television ads, as well as digital and social presence, that the Society is the leader in the charitable golf space. Digital viewers can catch the ad on targeted golf websites including,,, and

    Chris (@ChrisDiMarco) will be tweeting out the ad, as well as linking to golf events on and sharing American Cancer Society social media posts celebrating the partnership. In addition, all media will be driving viewers to the newly redesigned page.

    Below is a list of estimated times the ad will air on the Golf Channel. Please note that all times are Eastern Daylight Time.

    Thursday, June 15

    • 7:20 a.m.: Morning Drive, live from the U.S. Open
    • 8:52 a.m.: On location, live from the U.S. Open

    Friday, June 16

    • 7:52 a.m.: Morning Drive, live from the U.S. Open
    • 9:48 p.m.: On location, live from the U.S. Open

    Saturday, June 17

    • 8:11 a.m.: Live from the U.S. Open
    • 7:12 p.m.: On location, live from the U.S. Open
    • 10:47 p.m.: U.S. Open golf, 3rd round replay

    Sunday, June 18

    10:13 a.m.: Live from the U.S. Open

    "We are excited to launch this campaign with Chris’ unbelievable partnership and support, which will undoubtedly lay the groundwork for the future of the golf portfolio to achieve our goal of a 50 percent increase in revenue by 2020 – to a $15 million property," said Sharon Byers, our chief development and marketing officer.

  • Gary's Update: Teaming up to fight cancer

    Below is the transcript of Gary's Update. Watch the video here.


    Hello everyone! I'm coming to you today from Merion Golf Club, right outside of Philadelphia, and we're attending the 18th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Invitational. And I am so privileged to be here today with Reggie Minton, who is the Deputy Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and a real champion for Coaches vs. Cancer. Great to have you here, Reggie.


    It's my pleasure – and I've been at every one.


    I tell you, it's hard to believe this is 18, and it's also hard to believe that next year, we'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of Coaches vs. Cancer. And the great thing is, the program continues to develop momentum. As a matter of fact, just last month, at the 10th anniversary of Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Classic in Las Vegas, they broke their record and raised over a million dollars. 


    That's tremendous. 


    It really is. I tell you, it's phenomenal. And the thing of it is, the coaches now have new ideas, new sponsors, and new ways of getting people engaged. Reggie, we are just so thankful for the partnership that we have with the NABC. I mean, it's just absolutely awesome. You guys have just been terrific. And I just want to thank you for that, and I also want to ask you, what do you think really motivates these coaches to support the American Cancer Society the way they do, with their schools and with their communities, and also to be here at events like this, to participate in those. 


    Well first of all, I think this is an easy cause to support. Every one of us has been touched by cancer, including these coaches, their friends, their community, members of their family. So we don't have to work hard to get them to understand the value of what they can do and help us. And they're fighters. They're used to competing, and they want to beat this. They want to join up with the American Cancer Society and beat this disease. And I think you'll find, that they'll always be willing to give of their time, effort, and energy, and their assets to try to help win, and fight. 


    Yeah, I tell you, they're so passionate, and they have such an incredible platform to influence – both raising the awareness and raising money. And I mean, so you think about our partnership with the NABC, and partnerships that we're growing with the NFL, and US Track and Field, and now with our first golf ambassador, PGA tour champion Chris DiMarco. And really a lot going on in the sports and entertainment area – and doing everything we can to increase our relevance and also our revenue for the Society.

    So Reggie, thank you for being here, thank you for your leadership, thank you for everything that you're doing and the NABC is doing. 


    Well I tell you what, we can't thank you all enough for all that you do and how well you do it. I think it's been a great marriage and partnership with the American Cancer Society and the NABC. We've had great success up to now, but let's see if we can't go another 25 years and double what we've done this time.


    I tell you what, Reggie, I love the way you think. And we're going to do it, because the marriage is getting stronger, the momentum is growing, and as Coach Martelli says, we are absolutely going to "crush cancer." So, thank you, and thank all of you for everything you're doing every day to help us create a world without cancer. Have a great week! 

  • Due Friday, June 16: Nominations for our Hope Lodge volunteer award

    Do you work with an exceptional Hope Lodge volunteer or group of volunteers? 

    If so, consider nominating them for our for our Margot S. Freudenberg National Volunteer Award. The deadline for submitting nominations is Friday, June 16.

    This award is named in memory of Margot S. Freudenberg who founded the first Hope Lodge facility in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1970 after her own family was touched by cancer. 

    Actively involved in Hope Lodge until she was 105, Margot was the longest serving ACS volunteer to date. Today her legacy of grace, giving, and service lives on through our inspirational Hope Lodge volunteers.

    The Margot S. Freudenberg National Volunteer Award is presented annually to an individual or group in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Hope Lodge program. An appointed task force comprised of volunteers and staff, as well as a member of the Freudenberg family and Tangerine Zielinski, last's year's recipient of the award, will select the awardee based on the following criteria:

    • Adheres to the Hope Lodge program's mission and values, and is particularly dedicated to elevating the patient experience and Hope Lodge environment.
    • Demonstrates dedication to the Hope Lodge served through hours invested, days volunteered, and increased number of patients and caregivers served.
    • Contributes to the growth of the Society and Hope Lodge. This includes efforts and activities to reach underserved and/or diverse populations, the implementation of a program, and recruitment of other volunteers.
    • Performance above and beyond being a Hope Lodge volunteer. Contributes to our goals through involvement in other Society programs, volunteer work outside of the Society, and participation in Relay For Life, legislative advocacy, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Discovery Shops, etc.
    • Minimum two years of active volunteer service or 200 volunteer hours with the American Cancer Society.

    How do you nominate a volunteer?

    All  volunteers are able to nominate a fellow volunteer for this award by completing a nomination form and sending it to their regional Hope Lodge manager.

    Hope Lodge managers will submit a maximum of one nomination per Hope Lodge facility for consideration. Hope Lodge regional directors will ensure a minimum of one nomination, but no more than two nominations, per Hope Lodge region is submitted by the June 16, 2017, deadline. 

    If you have any questions, please contact Caira Turner at

  • New National Cancer Institute director named

    ​President Trump has named Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, the director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, to lead the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD.

    The oncologist and geneticist will succeed Doug Lowy, MD, who has been acting director of NCI since April 2015 when Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, MD, stepped down as director. Lowy is expected to remain at the institute as deputy director and a researcher.

    “We salute Dr. Lowy for his remarkable leadership and his ability as a basic scientist to gain the respect, trust, and adoration of the cancer control and treatment communities,” said our CEO Gary Reedy.

    Sharpless, 50, has done extensive work on how cells age and become malignant. He sees patients at North Carolina Cancer Hospital, which is the clinical home for UNC Lineberger.

    Derek Raghavan, president of the Levine Cancer Institute, part of Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, called Dr. Sharpless an expert in “translational” medicine, with a deep understanding of both the research and clinical aspects of the rapidly changing cancer field. In a Washington Post article, he noted that Dr. Sharpless is assuming the post “at a very tough time,” given the President's proposed budget cut of roughly 20 percent for the National Institutes of Health. As part of that, the NCI is targeted for a $1 billion cut.

    Otis Brawley, MD, our chief medical and scientific officer, said Dr. Sharpless is “very much qualified” for the position given his experience as director of a major cancer center and his strong track record as a researcher.

    Dr. Sharpless, a native of Greensboro, N.C., earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and an oncology fellowship at Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care in Boston. He returned to Chapel Hill as a faculty member at Lineberger in 2002 and became head of the cancer center in 2014.

    The appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, came on June 9, several days after the White House announced that Francis S. Collins will stay on as National Institutes of Health director.

    NCI is the largest of the institutes at the National Institutes of Health, with a budget of about $5.4 billion this year. It is the largest public funder of cancer research, and the American Cancer Society is the largest not-for-profit, private funder of cancer research in the U.S. 

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