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Cablegate: Advancing U.S.-Japan Collaboration in Cancer Clininal

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PP RUEHAST RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKO #2551/01 3090704
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050704Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7262
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 7254
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 4482
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 9609
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 1073
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 7765
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3610
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 002551


DEPT FOR EAP/J AND OES/IHB
HHS PASS TO NIH/NCI
HHS FOR OGHA
DEPT PASS TO AID/GH/HIDN

SENSTIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KSTH ECON PGOV SOCI CASC JA
SUBJECT: ADVANCING U.S.-JAPAN COLLABORATION IN CANCER CLININAL
TRIALS

REF: TOKYO 1589

TOKYO 00002551 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary: Dr. Edward Trimble of the National Cancer Institute
participated in a series of meetings and programs on October 20 and
21 as part of Embassy Tokyo's ongoing effort to promote increased
collaboration between U.S. and Japanese researchers in cancer
clinical trials. The activities built on the momentum of a highly
successful workshop in July (reftel) by increasing awareness of the
issue among Japanese parliamentarians, patient groups, and
government officials. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In cooperation with the Tokyo American Center (TAC),
Econoffs organized a series of programs for Dr. Edward Trimble of
the National Cancer Institute designed to raise awareness of the
importance of international collaboration in cancer clinical trials.
U.S. and Japanese researchers agree increased cooperation in
developing drugs to combat cancer would benefit patients in both
countries and highlight how strengthened bilateral ties in science,
technology, and medicine can improve human lives. Although the
number of international clinical trials and drug approvals has
increased in Japan in recent years, they are still far fewer than in
other advanced countries. Japanese cancer patients do not have
access to the same cutting-edge drugs as their counterparts in the
U.S. and Europe. Meanwhile, the need for international
collaboration in cancer clinical trials has grown stronger with
advances in treatment and screening. International collaboration
can maximize resources and patients, and lead to more effective
therapeutic strategies and drugs.

3. (SBU) Dr. Trimble's activities were designed around action items
identified during the July workshop. One such item was educating
Japanese policymakers about the importance of government support for
and facilitation of academic clinical trials, which, unlike trials
administered by pharmaceutical companies, can focus on rare types of
cancer. To address this action item, TAC and the Embassy organized
a "benkyo-kai" (study session) for members of the Japanese Diet.
Given the recent election, which ushered in many new, reform-minded
parliamentarians from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the
timing was perfect. Nearly a dozen legislators sitting on health
committees and their policy staff attended the session, among them
Eriko Fukuda, a young female DPJ legislator who gained national
prominence as an activist representing hepatitis C victims, and
Akira Koike, physician and member of the Communist Party (JCP).
(Koike also arranged for an article on the event to be placed in the
JCP newspaper Akahata - a first for TAC.) The Ambassador opened the
event, lending extra weight to the issue.

4. (SBU) The parliamentary "benkyo-kai" was followed by a study
session for patient advocates, another group identified in Post's
action plan as a key stakeholder in the effort to promote
international collaboration. Many Japanese patients, wary of side
effects, are ambivalent about clinical trials. Greater advocacy on
the part of patient groups could compel policymakers to improve the
clinical trial infrastructure in Japan. Approximately ten
representatives of patient advocacy groups attended the study
session. Dr. Trimble spoke about the National Cancer Institute's
programs to educate the U.S. public about the benefits and risks of
clinical trials and distributed materials the Institute uses for
such public education.

5. (SBU) Dr. Trimble also met with several representatives of the
Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), the main Japanese
drug regulatory body. PMDA staff expressed support for the concept
of international collaboration in licensing trials, and told Dr.
Trimble they encourage Japanese academic investigators to
participate in global trials. During the discussion, Dr. Trimble
was able to dispel some myths that PMDA staff had about the U.S.
model for cancer clinical trials, such as the belief that control
groups in U.S. cancer trials are given only a placebo.

6. (SBU) Additionally, Dr. Trimble's program included meetings with
a pharmaceutical company to learn about industry's role in improving
the current state of the clinical trials infrastructure in Japan,
called on a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Science and
Technology Policy (CSTP), and held a roundtable discussion with
Japanese public health experts. His activities in Tokyo were
followed by a keynote address at a major oncology conference in

TOKYO 00002551 002.2 OF 002


Yokohama on the subject of global clinical trials.

7. (SBU) Dr. Trimble's follow-up visit was highly successful in
terms of accomplishing several goals in our action plan, in
expanding our range of contacts on this issue, in raising awareness
of the issue among several key groups and individuals, and in better
understanding the opportunities and challenges in the endeavor to
promote greater U.S.-Japan collaboration in clinical trials. A
series of related events held between the July 2009 workshop
(reftel) and Dr. Trimble's October visit, including an oncology
career development seminar sponsored by the Academy of Cancer
Experts and TAC, have also highlighted the issue. The National
Cancer Institute and Embassy Tokyo have identified several areas for
further action, including a proposed U.S. study tour for Japanese
patient advocates under the auspices of the International Visitor
Leadership Program (IVLP). At a time when the media is focused on
the security dimension of the U.S.-Japan relationship, we believe
that programs like this can highlight other aspects of the of
U.S.-Japan ties such as the kind of scientific collaboration that
carries the promise of improving lives.


ROOS

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