Medical Oncology Group of Australia

In the first quarter of 2013, the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) reviewed and developed numerous submissions on new oncology drugs being considered as part of the Australian regulatory process, with the aim of providing up-to-date clinical and best practice advice. These included MOGA submissions on the breast cancer drugs, everolimus, eribulin and vinorelbine.

Continuing our role in the lobbying and advocacy for oncology drugs and treatments, the association also made a submission to the senate inquiry on the supply of chemotherapy drugs such as docetaxel, and national oncology drug shortages have remained on the association’s agenda. The ongoing issue of concern is that clinicians and professional groups only find out about oncology drug shortages in pharmaceutical industry correspondence, and believe a national drug shortage alert system should be put in place, including a formal notification system. MOGA has also advocated that shortages should be addressed locally or addressed at a government level on behalf of less well supported facilities, as larger hospitals with pharmacies can source alternate supplies. MOGA is currently developing a list of essential oncology drugs that should not be allowed to go into shortage of supply in Australia, for the Federal Government to use in future planning.

In March, the Australian Federal Court ruled on a case challenging a company’s patent over human genetic material, the BRCA1 gene. The court dismissed the case, finding isolated human DNA or RNA could be considered, “a manner of manufacture”, as required under patent law. The MOGA Ethics Sub-Committee, chaired by Professor Ian Olver, is developing a position statement and some general guidelines or guiding principles in this complex area. The association’s guidelines for interaction with the pharmaceutical industry are also being reviewed and updated. 

Recently, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) announced plans to significantly expand its international programs and efforts to address the growing global cancer burden and care disparities. MOGA values its long standing collaborative relationship with ASCO through its international branch. Notably, ASCO has been a strong supporter of the ACORD program, as a founding program partner and in providing two faculty members to join the workshop faculty every two years since 2004, as well as nominating a senior ASCO member to sit on the ACORD planning committee. Applications for ACORD 2014 will open in early November and candidates considering making an application to attend are advised to start work on their clinical trials protocols. 

Best of ASCO, which MOGA has presented annually since 2009, is also part of ASCO’s international programs and has become a valued opportunity for Australian oncology professionals to review and debate the research findings that are presented each June in Chicago. Best of ASCO Australia has recently been confirmed for Saturday, 3 August, at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Once again, the association is pleased to invite all oncology and allied health professionals to register for the Best of ASCO Australia 2013 program. Please register early to ensure your place via

The MOGA Annual Scientific Meeting 2013 – Blood, Biomarkers and Beyond – at the Melbourne Convention Centre (1-2 August) –  will focus on biomarkers and their role in the routine management of patients with cancer and how they guide drug development.

International guest speaker, Professor Allen Chan, from the Chinese University Hong Kong, is a biomarker expert and a key member of one of the most exciting research teams working in this area globally. Professor Mark Ratain, from the University of Chicago, will also share his unique experience in the closely aligned areas of the pharmacogenomics and the pharmacology of anticancer agents. The meeting will feature other highlight sessions ranging from ‘A supervisor’s materclass’ through to a debate on ‘Who should pay for high cost drugs?’

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