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Thursday, Dec 7, 2023

Merging Cancer Centers:

“Prop. 10 Funds Roll

Into San Diego to the

Tune of Some $30 Million

Scripps’ move to integrate two existing cancer centers into one , the Scripps Cancer Center , and partner with the renowned Scripps Research Institute is another move to achieve its “systems of excellence.”

But some may read it as an initiative to cut costs in light of rising prices of health care.

“Any time something like this is done to be more efficient, there will always be questions about possible risks to quality,” said Dr. Robert Hertzka, president of the San Diego County Medical Society.

Yet, Hertzka added, in this case it’s unlikely to have a negative effect on patients and doctors, considering the proximity of the two centers.

Scripps’ two centers , the Scripps Green Cancer Center at Green Hospital and the Scripps Stevens Cancer Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla , are less than two miles apart.

Earlier Collaboration

Under the plan announced Oct. 6, both centers would meld efforts of post-graduate education, clinical research and doctors’ expertise of specialties to enhance the quality of health care while removing redundancies (such as in administration) to save money, said Dr. Alan Saven, who will direct the center for the next three years.

The center’s budget is still being established by the Scripps governing board and should be announced within a few weeks. Saven declined to offer financial estimates for the center.

Saven is hopeful to repeat an earlier Scripps success story where scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and doctors at the Green Cancer Center worked together. Researcher Dennis Carson developed a leukemia drug at the Scripps Research Institute and Dr. Ernest Beutler tested it at Green Hospital in patients , all in all spending $3 million to bring a drug called Leustatin to the marketplace some 10 years ago.

That is significantly less than some $400 million needed to launch a drug today, he added.

But don’t forget, only 1 in 10,000 compounds actually translates into a saleable drug.

Saven also hopes to entice local biotech firms to conduct their human trials at the center.

However, efforts to speed up the process of bringing a potential drug from the laboratory to patients for testing have been going on in other local cancer centers as well.

Industry Rivalry

The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, a Sharp HealthCare affiliate, and Sharp have long worked in a concerted effort, developing drugs and testing them in patients.

Hertzka said Scripps’ effort is just another indicator of existing rivalry among local health care systems.

But there are also talks of collaborations. Discussions are ongoing to create a regional cancer institute , planned under the auspices of the county Board of Supervisors , combining the expertise of more than a dozen local cancer centers.

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Tobacco To Health: Board of Supervisors chairwoman Pam Slater announced that $30 million from Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues have made it to San Diego.

Proposition 10 funds, generated by a 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes, will be used for health, nutrition and education programs for San Diego’s children up to 5 years old, according to a county report issued Oct. 18.

The funds were distributed by the California Children and Families Commission to the San Diego Children and Families First Commission, an organization that gathers information from parents, families and community groups to help determine how Proposition 10 funds will best meet the needs of young children.

Slater, who also chairs the San Diego Children and Families First Commission, invites residents to phone the commission at (619) 515-6979 and provide comments.”


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