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W.Va. cancer trials network to launch in the spring

Feb. 10, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

CHARLESTON -- A statewide cancer clinical trials network scheduled to launch in the spring is expected to improve West Virginians' access to advanced treatments.

The West Virginia Cancer Clinical Trials Network would broaden access for patients to cancer related clinical trials. It also would unite government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups and health care organizations in a concentrated effort, said Scot Remick, director of the Mary Babb Cancer Center in Morgantown, who will serve as the network's director.

A recent study by the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics said the network would generate an estimated $11 million in new economic activity and hundreds of jobs in its first year.

"There's unlimited opportunity to network across the state," Remick told the Charleston Gazette. "When you start looking at the economic impact it becomes very significant."

One in five of the more than 10,000 West Virginians diagnosed with cancer each year leave the state to receive care, the study said. It estimated that about $360 million is spent in other states for West Virginians' cancer care.

"The fact of the matter is having access to clinical trials is part of cancer care. It's state-of-the-art care," Remick said. "A lot of patients in West Virginia have other (health) issues, you're losing additional revenue."

Several state medical centers are partnering with the new network, including the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Beckley Oncology Associates, Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg, Camden Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg, Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins, Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, St. Mary's Medical Center in Huntington and Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston.

Remick estimated the network will need $6 million to $9 million to support the effort.

The network will look to partners, philanthropy and the state oncology association for funding in the first five years. Funding after that will primarily come from revenue generated by clinical trials, grants, fundraising and potential additional funding from partners.

"This needs to be West Virginia-focused, West Virginia-centered," Remick said. "It's about keeping people closer to home for contemporary care."

He said West Virginia's network is being modeled around the University of New Mexico's trial network.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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