Community Oncology Alliance Elects New Officers and Board Members
Michael Diaz, MD of Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute Elected President of COA
Announces Formation of Standing Biosimilars Committee
The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) announced today that long-time board member and volunteer Michael Diaz, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), has been elected president of COA. He will take office for a one-year term beginning on January 1, 2019.
Additionally, Kashyap Patel, MD, a practicing medical oncologist at Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in South Carolina, was elected as vice president of COA. Miriam Atkins, MD, FACP, a practicing medical oncologist at Augusta Oncology in Georgia, was elected as 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 cancer patients 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 FCS in 2011 and currently serves on the FCS 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 non-medical financial assistance to qualified cancer patients 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 Officers and Board members can be viewed online at http://www.communityoncology.org/about-us/officers-and-board.
“It has been a great two years serving as president of COA and I am confident that we will continue to thrive under the presidency of Dr. Michael Diaz. He is a good friend, exceptional oncologist, and tireless advocate for community oncology patients and practices,” said Jeff Vacirca MD, FACP, outgoing COA president and CEO of New York Cancer and Blood Specialists. “We have entered a critical period for the future of the community oncology system and patients we serve. COA is on the frontlines, tackling the tremendous challenges and opportunities that lie ahead so that Americans can continue to access to the high quality, local, affordable, and accessible cancer care that they deserve. I look forward to continuing to play a big role in COA and supporting all of the great work that we do.”
Recognizing the importance of biosimilars and the need for educating all oncology professionals, practices, and patients, the COA Board is also announcing the formation of a standing Biosimilars Committee. Dr. Patel has been elected to serve as chair of the newly formed committee alongside co-chairs immediate past president of COA, Dr. Vacirca, and incoming president, 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, they 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 and determine how biosimilars may play a role in cost control for the Part B drugs dispensed by community oncologists.
The COA Biosimilars Committee joins other COA initiatives focused on leading in oncology payment reform and health care policy. These are part of an overall mission to grapple with the cost of cancer care while ensuring that patients have access to quality, affordable, and accessible cancer care. COA seeks to be at the forefront of efforts to improve the cancer care system for patients, survivors, caregivers, and their families.
As a non-profit, 501(c)6 organization, COA is directed and overseen by community oncologists. An elected Executive Committee of Officers reports to a volunteer Board of Directors who direct COA’s management by an Executive Director and staff.
Because the majority of Americans battling cancer receive treatment in the community setting, ensuring the vitality of the community cancer care delivery system is imperative for patient well-being. The officers, committees, and board members of COA further its mission to protect and foster the community oncology delivery system in the United States through public policy, advocacy, and education.