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A Virtual Town Hall | Kidney Cancer Care in the Time of COVID-19

Thought leaders across the US share their perspectives and the latest information on kidney cancer care during COVID-19.

Featuring advocacy leaders (Joyce Graff, Powerful Patient; Bryan Lewis, KidneyCAN, Gretchen E. Vaughan, Kidney Cancer Association), medical experts (Dr. David Braun, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Dr. Gennady Bratslavsky, Upstate Medical University; Dr. Manojkumar Bupathi, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers), industry partner Dr. Andrew Coop from Pfizer, Inc., and stage 3 cancer survivor Salima Witt, a member of the KCA’s Patient and Caregiver Advisory Council.

This town hall was produced in partnership with Powerful Patient, KidneyCan, and the Kidney Cancer Association and supported by Pfizer Oncology and Bristol Myers Squibb.

COVID-19 FAQs

Who is at increased risk for COVID-19?

Certain groups of people have an increased risk of getting sick from a COVID-19 infection including older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.

Are people with cancer at increased risk? What about people with kidney cancer?

People with cancer are another group at high risk of serious illness from infection, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) , and this can include COVID-19 infections. This is because cancer itself or cancer treatments can weaken the immune system.

Among people with kidney cancer, the average age at diagnosis is 64 years and most people are diagnosed between ages 65-74, according to the ACS.

In this Uromigos podcast episode called “COVID-19 and Renal Cancer: A Patient’s Perspective”, the hosts and guest discuss kidney cancer surgery and treatment in the context of COVID-19, what some of the unknown factors are (there are many), and what questions patients may want to ask their doctors.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 require medical attention immediately. They include :

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

According to the CDC, if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 mainly spreads between people through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC. It may also be possible for someone to get COVID-19 by touching something that has the virus on it and then touching their face (mouth, nose, and possibly eyes).

How can you prevent infection?

Good hygiene practices are among the best ways to lower the risk of any type of infection, though people at increased risk may need to ask their healthcare provider about additional steps.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your face and throw it in the trash immediately.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects often.
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially people who are sick and people at high risk of getting very sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

Clinical Trials and Medications

If you are currently enrolled in a clinical trial, contact your study coordinator or the site investigator to discuss any upcoming study visits. 

If you are concerned about the availability of your medication, an upcoming scheduled treatment, or an upcoming appointment, please contact your doctor’s office directly for up-to-date information. Many hospitals are changing their patient protocols frequently.

Find an NCI-Designated Cancer Center for up-to-date information.

Many of the KCA’s pharma partners have released statements regarding the availability of medications, ongoing clinical trials and their response to COVID-19. Please see below for those statements and links to their websites for more information.

Amgen

Updated April 9, 2020: Amgen asked all that are participating in a clinical trial to “contact your Clinical Site Investigator (medical doctor) for guidance with respect to the site’s current availability to receive your visit, study procedures, treatment (if applicable) or any safety issues. Given the safety concerns around COVID-19 and the associated risk to maintaining normal clinical trial operations, we are making decisions study-by-study and country-by-country to minimize risk to the patients and facilities. Accordingly, we have temporarily paused enrollment/screening in clinical trials where there is uncertainty around the ability of sites to ensure subject safety or data integrity at the present time.”

Amgen also shared the following statement regarding their supply of medicines: “Amgen continues to provide an uninterrupted supply of medicines for patients around the world. Based on inventory levels, we do not anticipate a shortage of our medicines due to COVID-19 at this time.”

Amgen’s COVID-19 information center. https://wwwext.amgen.com/covid-19/

If you have a question about Amgen medication, contact  1-800-772-6436.

For more information on Amgen products, visit https://wwwext.amgen.com.

Amgen clinical trials: https://wwwext.amgen.com/science/clinical-trials/.

AVEO Oncology

For more information on AVEO Oncology products, visit https://www.aveooncology.com.

Bayer

Bayer updated the following statement on March 30, 2020 regarding their COVID-19 response: “We are working at full steam to ensure business continuity so that we can provide patients, consumers and farmers with the products they urgently need at this time. Our organization, and especially our production facilities, have so far been operating largely problem-free.”

Full statement on COVID-19 https://www.bayer.com/en/coronavirus-covid-19-update.aspx

For more information on Bayer products, visit https://www.bayer.com.

If you have a question about Bayer medicine, please call 888-842-2937.

Bayer clinical trials: https://clinicaltrials.bayer.com/.

Bristol Myers Squibb – Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab)

On April 7, 2020, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) shared the following statement regarding clinical trials and research: “We have provided clinical trial investigators with overarching principles and guidance regarding the conduct of BMS clinical trials worldwide in light of COVID-19, and are taking into account guidance from health authorities, where applicable. In some instances, we are continuing clinical studies as planned, while in others we are temporally suspending or postponing trials as appropriate.”

Regarding their medicines and supply chain: “Our clinical and commercial supply chain teams have proactively booked alternative means for moving our raw materials and products to our markets and clinical sites over the past months. Thanks to these efforts, we have not seen any disruption in our clinical or commercial supply chain due to the pandemic.”

BMS’s expanded assistance program offers several medications at no cost.

BMS’s COVID-19 information center. https://www.bms.com/about-us/responsibility/coronavirus-updates.html

For more information on Bristol Myers Squibb products, please visit https://www.bms.com/

Bristol Myers Squibb clinical trials: https://www.bms.com/researchers-and-partners/clinical-trials-and-research.html

If you have a question about Bristol Myers Squibb products, call 1-800-332-2056.

Calithera Bioscience

On April 14, 2020, Calithera updated the following statement regarding their clinical trials: “Given the fluid nature of the current situation, and the impact of the pandemic on clinical sites globally, we are delaying the start of enrollment of patients in our two new clinical trial, while we work towards accelerating the opening of sites.”

For more information on Calithera Bioscience please visit, https://www.calithera.com/

Calithera Clinical Trials: https://www.calithera.com/clinical-trials/.

If you have a question about Calithera Bioscience products, call 1-650-870-1000.

Eisai – Lenvima (lenvatinib) and Afinitor (everolimus)

Eisai shared the following information about their medications: “Eisai Inc., is monitoring our global supply chain resources to safeguard an adequate supply of our medicines. There are no issues with the supply of materials or their source and we do not anticipate any issues in the future as COVID-19 continues to expand.”

The full statement can be found at: https://us.eisai.com

For more information on Eisai products, call 1-888-274-378 or email [email protected]

For more information, visit https://www.eisai.com.

Eisai clinical trials: https://us.eisai.com/research/oncology-clinical-trials.

Exelixis – Cabometyx (cabozantinib)

Exelixis released the following statement regarding their medicines and clinical trials during this time:” We do not expect there to be an impact to the availability of either of our commercial products (CABOMETYX® and COMETRIQ®) as we maintain a substantial amount of stock throughout our broad and diverse supply chain. We have ongoing investigational studies at clinical trial sites across the globe. We are monitoring how COVID-19 may impact this research.”

Full statement on COVID-19. https://www.exelixis.com/statement-covid-19/

For more information regarding Exelixis, please visit https://www.exelixis.com/.

For more information regarding Exelixis products, call 650-837-7000.

Exelisis clinical trials: https://www.exelixis.com/clinical-trials/

Genentech – Avastin (bevacizumab)

Genentech released the following statement regarding COVID-19: “Genentech takes the health and safety of our patients, customers, employees and local communities very seriously, and we are actively responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are closely monitoring and evaluating the situation as it evolves. “

Regarding their supply chain: “Though we are not currently experiencing supply issues for our portfolio of medicines related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are closely monitoring and responding to the evolving situation. We have robust business continuity and mitigation strategies in place and we’re working closely with health authorities; federal, state and local governments; and distribution partners to manage inventory levels equitably and best meet the needs of patients.”

Regarding their clinical trials: “The pandemic is now impacting our studies in nearly all regions of the world and we’re working closely with trial sites to find new and flexible ways to adapt to the challenges they are facing and safely enable continued study participation wherever possible.  We will continue to assess the situation on an ongoing basis at the study, site, and country level.”

Full statement on COVID-19 https://www.gene.com/covid19

For more information about Genentech, call 877-436-3683

For more information regarding Genentech, please visit https://www.gene.com/.

Genentech clinical trials:  https://forpatients.roche.com/

GlaxoSmithKlein

GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK) released the following statement regarding COVID-19: “GSK is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and is supporting global efforts to tackle the virus. Since the outbreak, we have been actively exploring ways to help, with our science and expertise, alongside protecting the health and wellbeing of our people and managing out global supply chains to support patients and consumers who depend on our products.”

Full statement on COVID-19 https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/media/resource-centre/our-contribution-to-the-fight-against-2019-ncov/

For more information on GlaxoSmithKlein, please visit https://www.gsk.com/.

For more information on GSK, please call 1-888-825-5249.

GSK clinical trials: https://us.gsk.com/en-us/research/our-approach/trials-in-people/.

IPSEN

On April 22, 2020 Ipsen released the following statement regarding their response to COVID-19: “Ipsen continues to operate all of its manufacturing sites and is closely monitoring the situation. There is an adequate level of inventory with no supply chain issues anticipated to continue providing medicines to patients. There is also limited impact to date on clinical trials, with minimal disruption to investigational drug supply for ongoing patients, despite a general slowdown in the recruitment of new patients as well as new site activations in ongoing trials across Europe and the U.S.

Ipsen remains focused on ensuring that patients continue to have access to their treatments and on addressing the impact of this pandemic in their communities.”

Full statement on COVID-19 https://www.ipsen.com/press-releases/ipsen-provides-covid-19-update/

For more information on IPSEN, please visit https://www.ipsen.com/.

Ipsen clinical trials: https://www.ipsen.com/our-science/rd/clinical-trials/

Merck – Keytruda (pembrolizumab)

From Merck’s site, on product supply: “While supply and demand vary by product, there are not any current impacts from Covid-19 on the production and supply of our medicines and vaccines for the U.S. However, we are working to assess an increase in demand for an anti-parasitic.”

From Merck’s site, on clinical trials: “Driven by our steadfast commitment to patients, we are making every effort to ensure that patients in affected areas who are enrolled in clinical trials are able to continue their treatment and receive appropriate care and monitoring. Conditions are fluid and evolving, but as local conditions allow, we are enrolling patients in ongoing studies and we are starting new studies.”

Regarding their Patient Assistance Program: “Driven by our steadfast commitment to patients, we are taking a number of new steps to support patients in the United States who may have lost their jobs and insurance coverage.  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Merck Patient Assistance Program is making a number of changes to help patients who have lost their job or cannot get into their doctor’s office during this crisis, including assessing patients’ real-time financial situations, providing assistance with expiring enrollments, and offering new options to collect signatures on enrollment forms.”

For Merck’s Patient Assistance Program, visit https://www.merck.com/product/access-and-patient-assistance.html

How Merck is responding to the global pandemic, COVID-19 https://www.merck.com/about/featured-stories/how-we-are-responding-to-the-global-pandemic-COVID-19.html

For more information on Merck products, please call 1-800-444-2080.

For more information, visit https://www.merck.com/index.html.

Merck clinical trials: https://www.merck.com/research/index.html

Novartis – Votrient (pazopanib)

Novartis released the following statement regarding COVID-19: “Novartis is responding to COVID-19 with safety of associates and patients globally our primary concern. We are also contributing to research efforts, supporting communities and ensuring stable supply and price of essential medicines.”

Novartis COVID-19 Information Center  https://www.novartis.com/coronavirus

w.novartis.com/coronavirus

For more information on Novartis, call 1-862-778-2100.

For more information on Novartis, visit https://www.novartis.com/.

Novartis clinical trials: https://www.novartis.com/our-science/novartis-clinical-trials

Pfizer – Sutent (sunitinib malate) and Inlyta (axitinib)

Pfizer shared this statement regarding clinical trials: “Our commitment to patients is unwavering and the safety of our patients, colleagues and the public is paramount. In late March, we paused the recruitment portion of certain global interventional clinical studies. We took that action in the interests of public health, so that clinical site partners and Pfizer could concentrate on care for patients in our ongoing clinical trials and to avoid adding to the demands on the healthcare system during the peak of the crisis.

We have determined that recruitment is operationally feasible in some site locations and in late April made the decision to resume recruitment across our portfolio, including new studies, at all clinical sites that are ready, where we are able to monitor safety effectively and health authorities allow recruitment to continue. 

We are taking this action to ensure flexibility and meet the diverse needs of our study sites and participants around the world as the COVID-19 situation evolves. We will work with our investigator sites to assess and confirm their readiness before they enroll new study participants.”

On their manufacturing and supply chain, Pfizer stated: “Pfizer consistently and diligently monitors the supply of our medicines. Our manufacturing and supply chain professionals have been working non-stop to ensure that the global supply chain of Pfizer medicines continues to be available to patients. As of now, we have not seen a disruption in our supply chain, and all of our plants in impacted areas around the world are operational.”

Full statement: https://www.pfizer.com/health/coronavirus/how-pfizer-is-responding

Pfizer’s COVID-19 information center https://www.pfizer.com/health/coronavirus

For more information on Pfizer, call 212-733-2323

Pfizer clinical trials: https://www.pfizer.com/science/clinical-trials

Prometheus

For more information, visit https://www.prometheusbiosciences.com/.

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