Thousand Oaks-based pharmaceutical giant Amgen Inc. is putting more emphasis on its international reach.
Besides its much-covered $27.8 billion acquisition of Dublin, Ireland-based Horizon Therapeutics that closed on Oct. 6, Amgen in recent months has established a network of eight cancer research centers around the globe, bringing together leaders of these centers and its own research experts.
And this week Amgen is holding its second annual patient voices panels, a series of in-person and virtual panels of patients at the Thousand Oaks campus and dozens of other Amgen sites worldwide.
The global cancer center network is designed to boost academic collaboration to advance new treatment options for cancer patients with the greatest unmet needs. The participating institutions are:
- Asan Medical Center (Seoul, South Korea);
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston);
- West German Cancer Center at University Hospital Essen (Essen, Germany);
- Gustave Roussy (Paris);
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York);
- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne, Australia);
- University Health Network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto); and
- Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (Barcelona, Spain).
“We have a big goal: to make profound differences in changing the standard of cancer care,” said Jean-Charles Soria, Amgen’s senior vice president of research and development. “We are committed to doing that through collaboration.”
The network aims to create multiple collaboration channels globally with the goal of expediting the transition of new, potentially transforming therapy programs to leaders in the clinic. Among the areas initially targeted with this collaborative effort are thoracic, gastrointestinal and reproductive/urinary system cancers.
“We hope to foster earlier, deeper and more frequent academic collaboration to fuel quicker progress for patients facing complex, difficult-to-treat cancers,” Soria added.
For the participating cancer centers, this is an opportunity to forge a closer relationship with the pharma giant.
“As a member of Amgen Partners of Choice, we look forward to collaborating closely with Amgen and other member institutions to catalyze the next wave of innovation in the fight against cancer,” Fabrice Barlesi, general director of Gustave Roussy, part of the Paris Saclay Cancer Cluster, said in the announcement.
The network was publicly announced last month, but actually launched in June with a two-day summit at Amgen’s Thousand Oaks headquarters campus involving researchers wand directors of the eight participating cancer centers.
Subsequent summits are expected to convene twice a year, with the next one later this year slated to be virtual. Participants are expected to discuss emerging oncology topics and advise on improving clinical trials to foster better outcomes for patients.
As for the patient panels this week, an Amgen spokeswoman said that dozens of Amgen sites around the globe will host them, including in Puerto Rico; Munich, Germany; and Singapore. There will also be panels at Amgen’s Thousand Oaks headquarters campus.
Each panel will last about an hour. Amgen moderators will guide conversations with approximately four patients, caregivers and advocates each representing various health challenges. Topics will include patient barriers and challenges, common fears and concerns, navigating stigma while living with chronic illness, and the importance of connections with others.
These panels are part of Amgen’s second annual “mission week” that allows Amgen researchers and other employees to step away from their daily activities and take a broader look at the needs of patients, both in the United States and around the world.