Michael Diaz, MD
Kashyap Patel, MD
Miriam Atkins, MD, FACP
THE COMMUNITY Oncology Alliance (COA) recently announced that Michael Diaz, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, has been elected President of COA. His 1-year term began on January 1, 2019. In addition, Kashyap Patel, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in South Carolina, was elected Vice President of COA, and Miriam Atkins, MD, FACP, a practicing medical oncologist at Augusta Oncology in Georgia, was elected Secretary.
“Thanks to groundbreaking discoveries in cancer research and advances in cancer care Americans have access to one of the best cancer care systems in the world. At a time when [patients with] cancer should have more reason than ever to be hopeful about their prognosis, issues of cost and access have made treatment no less daunting. This is unacceptable,” said Dr. Diaz. “We will not rest until every patient facing cancer has access to quality, affordable care in his or her own community. As President of COA, I will work tirelessly to fulfill COA’s mission to strengthen our nation’s cancer care system, so it can serve every patient in every community. I am honored and humbled to be elected to this new role at COA and look forward to serving with a phenomenal board and team in the year ahead.”
An active member of COA, Dr. Diaz joined Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute in 2011 and currently serves on the its Executive Board and as Director of Patient Advocacy for the practice. Dr. Diaz also serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, as Vice-Chair, which provides nonmedical financial assistance to qualified patients with cancer in Florida. Dr. Diaz donates many hours as an active medical missionary and has participated in numerous medical missions to Kingston, Jamaica.
In addition to Drs. Diaz, Patel, and Atkins, a new slate of members of the COA Board of Directors was also elected. A complete list of COA officers and Board members can be viewed online at communityoncology.org/about-us/officers-and-board.
Biosimilars Committee Formed
RECOGNIZING THE importance of biosimilars and the need for educating all oncology professionals, practices, and patients, the COA Board also announced the formation of a standing Biosimilars Committee. Dr. Patel has been elected to serve as Chair of the newly formed committee, alongside Co-Chairs Jeff Vacirca, MD, FACP, Immediate Past President of COA, and Dr. Diaz.
The COA Biosimilars Committee will initially work to address the totality of evidence supporting the use of biosimilars, provide information on the interchangeability of branded and biosimilar drugs, and to discuss the rules for pharmacy-level substitution of drugs. Concurrently, it will also develop guidelines for pharmacists to aid in understanding drug interchangeability, enabling them to prescribe with a greater level of confidence. The committee will also be tasked with assessing the current prevalence of biosimilars as a current treatment option. That data will in turn be used to widen usage of these agents and determine how biosimilars may play a role in cost control for the Part B drugs dispensed by community oncologists. ■