Presidential Matters July 2014


July 2014

Dear Colleagues,


SGO has been busy advocating for gynecologic oncology in the legislative and regulatory arenas this spring and summer, and I thought this would be a good time to update you and ask for your help in the near future.

SGO’s Practice Summit Working Group has completed the clinical maps for a new alternative payment model for endometrial cancer patients. As we discussed during the Member Forum back in March, the Working Group is looking to secure insurance claims data to validate current billing versus that outlined in the SGO clinical maps to determine best-case scenarios. If you have access to Medicare or private insurance claims data, please let me know. The goal is to develop a case statement to request a meeting with one to three private payers in the fall. This we believe will benefit us tremendously as we look to navigate the continually changing health care environment.

On June 25, Larry Maxwell, MD, testified on behalf of SGO at the Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee Meeting. SGO supported a proposal for the use of olaparib capsules as monotherapy for maintenance treatment of adult patients with platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer (including fallopian tube or primary peritoneal) with germline BRCA mutation as detected by an FDA-approved test, who are in response (complete response or partial response) to platinum-based chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the committee did not support the proposal. It was a sad day for women with ovarian cancer, but SGO will continue to support viable treatments for our patients and ways to get new therapies approved.

The use of laparoscopic power morcellation has come under intense scrutiny since late last year. While SGO has allowed AAGL and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to take the lead, we have not shied away from the issue. SGO has gone on record in opposition to a ban on the grounds that more women would be harmed if all hysterectomies were performed by open abdominal surgery. In a written statement to the FDA’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Devices Advisory Committee, which met July 10-11, the Society noted that morcellation is generally contraindicated in the presence of a documented or highly suspected malignancy but added that power morcellation with appropriate informed consent should remain available in the United States.

Meanwhile, the annual effort to sustain funding for ovarian cancer research at $20 million in the U.S. Dept. of Defense budget advances on schedule. SGO’s Government Relations (GR) staff participated in numerous meetings with Appropriations Committee members and SGO GR Committee members reached out to legislators from their states asking for the $20 million. Committee members recruited other SGO members to participate in this grassroots activity from those states that are not represented on the GR Committee.

During the week of June 16, the House of Representatives approved an FY 2015 defense bill that included the $20 million. On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $10 million. This has been the case for the past several years. Members of the GR Committee will keep the pressure on to ensure funding remains at $20 million in the final appropriations legislation for FY 2015 and may reach out to ask you to assist in this important effort.

Through advocacy efforts such as these, the SGO serves you by being the authoritative voice on gynecologic oncology. I appreciate your support of our initiatives and as always welcome your thoughts and suggestions. You may reach me at Have a great rest of the summer!

All the best,

Richard R. Barakat, MD