Tag Archives: US

Why Is the US Lagging Way Behind Other Countries in Closing the Gender Pay Gap? The U.S. has lessons to learn from Iceland, Slovenia and Rwanda.

Economists estimate that at the current rate of progress, American men and women will earn equal income in another 200 years. Considering the past century has already hosted three separate feminist movements that successfully granted women the right to vote, passed Roe v. Wade, and established women’s right to work, today’s feminists will demand we work a little quicker than that. It’s hard to fathom waiting another two centuries for equal pay. Dozens of other countries are already beating us in the global race to financial equity, so it certainly is possible. The U.S. has crucial lessons to learn from these nations.

The gender pay gap is not just a problem in the U.S., where women make 76 cents to a man’s dollar (note that the pay gap is even wider for women of color). Globally, the problem is dire. As World Economic Forum writes, “At the current rate of change, and given the continued widening of the economic gender gap already observed last year, it will now not be closed for another 217 years.” In its annual study of the countries with the widest and smallest gender pay gaps, WEF recognized the countries that have made the most progress to equal pay. 2017’s list of most equitable countries lists the following among the top ten:

  1. Iceland

  2. Norway

  3. Finland

  4. Rwanda

  5. Sweden

  6. Nicaragua

  7. Slovenia

  8. Ireland

  9. New Zealand

  10. Philippines

By comparison, the United States ranks #49. So what are the takeaways from this year’s list?

Iceland has made the top ten list consistently for the past several years. But they’re not sitting comfortably at the top: Iceland’s government says its work striving for equal pay isn’t done. A new law in the country requires all companies with 25 employees or more to file for government certification of their equal pay policies, which involves an audit. Companies that skip the certification will receive a fine. Dagny Aradottir Pind, a board member of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, told PRI, “it puts some [burden] on employers, but the results should be that the system of managing pay should be settled in a way that’s understandable … and fair.’’

Elsewhere in Europe, it has also taken policy to make progress. Slovenia has made closing the gender pay gap a priority, and has used government intervention to do so. According to the EU, “The most important contribution in the last few years to the equal opportunities policy framework in Slovenia in general and concerning the gender pay gap in particular was the adoption of the Resolution on the National Programme for Equal Opportunities of Women and Men (2005–2013) by the Parliament in October 2005.” The Resolution aims to reduce gender discrimination and employment differences between men and women, reduce the pay gap, and boost female entrepreneurship in order to promote equal opportunity. Slovenia’s government prepares biannual plans to enact these changes. It’s a significant investment of energy on part of the government, but it has allowed Slovenia to close their pay gap faster than any other nation in the EU.

The rub is, of course, Iceland’s and Slovenia’s tactics require close government supervision, and considering the current American administration, it’s unlikely that any such policy would fly these days in the U.S. Trump has actually already undone Obama-era regulations over the gender pay gap and shows no interest in prioritizing the issue moving forward.

Beyond federal intervention, then, is there any way we in the U.S. can learn from our peers to achieve financial gender equity? Other countries on the WEF lists have closed their gaps in other ways. For Rwanda, this happened, in part, unintentionally. Many proclaim surprise when learning that Rwanda has the 4th highest gender equality ranking in the world. It is, after all, one of the least economically developed countries in the world, according to the U.N.’s measure. As WEF writes of Rwanda, “This high rate of female workforce participation is in part out of necessity, and has its roots in the country’s devastating genocide. Over two decades ago, around 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in the space of just three months. In the wake of these horrific events, women made up between 60% and 70% of the surviving population. They had little choice but to fill the roles once occupied by men.” In other words, Rwandan women over the past two decades have found themselves in a similar position to American women during WWII, when they were called upon to fill the great labor shortage caused by vast numbers of men entering military service.

But it wasn’t all luck that brought Rwanda this achievement, though. There’s another reason why the African nation ranks highly among the list of most equitable countries by gender: there are a lot of female Rwandan politicians. “Every year for over a decade, Rwanda has topped the global list of countries with the most female political parliamentarians,” the WEF writes. “That’s in large part thanks to quotas, put in place following the genocide, stipulating that women must make up 30% of parliamentarians.” The WEF hypothesizes a trickle-down effect of electing more women to office, as “when women work in politics, research suggests they put important but otherwise neglected issues on the table.” Considering the historic number of women running for office this year in the U.S., the future could look bright for equal pay proponents too. The only question is: will it be a near future, a distant future, or a very distant one?

There’s clearly a moral to this story. It will take close government supervision to enact laws that mandate equal pay, not chance or unbridled capitalism. We cannot rely on a benevolent free market to even this playing field. Close oversight at the state or federal level is the only way to ascertain that women are paid as much as men.

By Liz Posner / AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Behind kerfuffle over a ‘nationalized 5G network,’ real US-China concerns

The US, South Korea, and China are all racing to develop the next wireless communications technology, known as 5G.

The problem is that this competition is not shaping up as a race where the best technology wins but a clash of visions on how nations should develop. The long-held Western ideal of companies competing on a level playing field is squaring off against China’s single-minded drive to become the leader in key areas.

The immediate flashpoints are traditional industries – aluminum and steel – where China has threatened to retaliate if President Trump carries through with his threat to slap tariffs on those imports. The more difficult challenge will be reconciling Western economic ideals with China’s development strategy in cutting-edge technologies.

At stake are trillions of dollars of business in industries that entrepreneurs are just beginning to dream up using artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technologies. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates 5G alone will add anywhere from $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion to the global economy by 2025 as those next-generation wireless networks create the communications grid for self-driving cars, smart homes, and intelligent factories.

That’s plenty of money for many companies and countries to share in – if China and the West can reconcile their differences. What’s keeping the two sides talking is the knowledge that everyone loses in a trade war.

“These are big, long-term competitive concerns,” says Doug Brake, director of telecommunications policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington think tank. And they’re not just economic.

What if China is so successful in a key 5G technology that the US military becomes reliant on it as a supplier? he asks. “What sort of position does it put us in?”

It’s those same military concerns that are behind China’s “military-civilian fusion” strategy, which aims to create a strong modern military on key high-tech technologies made domestically. And China is using a full array of tactics – from massive subsidies to state-owned and private companies to the appropriation of foreign technology – to achieve its goals.


Jason Lee/ReutersCaption


“The potential is certainly there and the determination of the Chinese is certainly there,” says Thomas Duesterberg, a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute and coeditor of “U.S. Manufacturing: The Engine for Growth in a Global Economy.” “They’re putting a great deal of money and intellectual resources and mercantilist tools in the world trading order to try to achieve dominance.”

 Mr. Trump campaigned on the idea of getting tougher with China on trade issues, and his administration has made some early moves aimed at confronting the Chinese challenge. In August, the president followed up on a campaign promise of “a zero tolerance policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer” by asking United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider launching an investigation into China’s practices.

A memo stirs the pot

Discussion about US-China rivalry over wireless networks flared early this week when a leaked memo and slide presentation from within the White House National Security Council suggested that the federal government, rather than the private sector, should possibly build America’s 5G network. The rationale: to avoid the potential security challenge of Chinese technology handling US wireless communications. The idea drew wide criticism as unrealistic or unnecessary and prompted avowals from White House sources that it is not official policy.

On Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, President Trump reiterated his get-tough policy without mentioning China: “We will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”

While various Asian nations – not just China – have used industrial policies and low-cost labor to take big chunks of market share in manufacturing industries, such as steel, autos, and memory chips, China’s 5G drive also includes a determined effort to appropriate Western intellectual property (IP). According to government officials and private experts, this effort involves everything from outright theft of trade secrets through industrial espionage to a policy of forcing companies wanting to sell in China to transfer their technology to Chinese joint-venture partners.

China poised to be largest 5G market

The pressure on companies is enormous because China is such a huge market to sell to. The pressure will be especially intense on companies with 5G-related technology if, as expected, China becomes the biggest market for 5G by 2025. China’s Huawei and ZTE Corp., racing to build a 5G network in China, are providing increasing competition for Europe’s Ericsson and Nokia and South Korea’s Samsung with key telecommunications equipment at extremely low prices.

On Wednesday, ZTE said it planned to sell $2.1 billion worth of stock privately to help fund development of its 5G mobile network technology.

More subtly, Beijing is pushing for a greater role in setting technical standards in the next-generation wireless arena. The more 5G patents Chinese companies hold, the more they can pressure Western patent holders to license their technology to Chinese companies at a cheap price.

“It is here – in its potential reshaping of norms for standards-essential IP – that China’s ascent poses a real challenge to American firms’ practices,” concluded a 2013 report for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “The Chinese approach emphasizes IP as another factor of production, not as a source of profit or unique competitive advantage. Accordingly, the aim is to lower its price to the minimum, which would (hopefully) increase the profit margin of equipment producers” at the expense of patent holders.

Few observers believe that Chinese President Xi Jinping will back down anytime soon.

President “Xi has really staked his future on the high-tech sectors in China,” says Mary Lovely, an economics professor at Syracuse University in New York.

At an October hearing by the office of the US Trade Representative, examining China’s intellectual-property practices, Chen Zhou of the China Chamber of International Commerce warned that any US penalties could “trigger a trade war.”

Outcome still uncertain

From China’s point of view, many Western norms of trade and IP are rules of the game that keep Western companies on top and China and other developing nations from catching up.

It’s not clear China will win the 5G competition. Its attempts to introduce a rival 4G standard failed to catch on. And 5G encompasses a big collection of technologies, only some of which China has proven good at, says Mr. Brake of ITIF.

“Technology … is being integrated within the existing network and changing very quickly,” he says. “It’s very easy to imagine the innovations that such a network could engender.” What’s not clear is which specific technologies or products will succeed in the marketplace.

Government can streamline the permitting of all the new antennas the network will require, he adds. But the private sector is better placed to figure out what customers want.

By Laurent Belsie/ChristianScienceMonitor

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US ‘needs to stop supporting terrorists’ to avoid possible clash with Turkey in Syria – Deputy PM

If Washington wants to avoid direct confrontation with Turkey in northern Syria, it “should stop supporting terrorists,” the country’s deputy prime minister told Turkish TV channel, A Haber.
“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Bekir Bozdag said. “The United States needs to review its soldiers and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in a way to avoid a confrontation with Turkey.”

It comes as Turkish operation dubbed ‘Olive Branch’ in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin enters its sixth day. The campaign followed an announcement by the US-led coalition to create a thousands-strong Border Security Force with Kurdish fighters, including from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) at its core.
Ankara insists that the YPG is linked to the PKK. The latter is designated as a terrorist group in Turkey, which has been fighting it for decades.
Bozdag’s statement follows a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump. During the conversation the latter raised concerns that Ankara’s ongoing military operation in Syria, if not scaled down, may result in a direct clash between the two major NATO allies.
Trump “urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces,” according to the White House readout of the conversation. The US leader also called upon Ankara to de-escalate and “limit its military actions” in order to “avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.”
However, Erdogan announced the extension of the military campaign to the east.
“With the Olive Branch operation, we have once again thwarted the game of those sneaky forces whose interests in the region are different,” Erdogan said. “Starting in Manbij, we will continue to thwart their game.”

Manbij is some 100km from Afrin and is held by US-backed Kurdish militia, raising fears of a direct clash between Ankara and Washington.
Disagreements over the status and future of Syria’s Kurds have strained relations between Ankara and Washington.
The Turkish government has repeatedly slammed Washington for delivering military supplies to Kurds fighting in Syria. In December 2017, Hurriyet Daily News reported that Trump approved arms support to Syrian Kurds, including anti-tank, anti-aircraft and mortar weapons, due to be delivered in 2018.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I Live in a ‘Shithole Country.’ It’s Called the United States This country has never really been “great” for everyone.

It takes a level of pomposity inconceivable to most of us to describe another country as a “shithole.”

It’s unfortunately just one more of the obnoxious, racist, and altogether absurd statements we’ve come to expect from President Donald Trump. If the president were to venture beyond the manicured lawns of Mar-a-Lago or the White House, he might see that the U.S. is not exactly in a position to judge, much less denigrate, our global neighbors.

In case you missed it, here’s what Trump reportedly said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He was referencing Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, and apparently most of Africa. He went on to ask why more people from Norway (a nearly all white country) weren’t coming to the U.S.

The story was first reported by the Washington Post. It’s been confirmed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who heard the words firsthand.

Trump and his defenders completely ignore the direct and disgraceful role America has played in making life worse in the countries he cited. Among many other things, we’ve backed right-wing death squads in El Salvador, supported cruel dictators in Haiti, and trapped poor countries the world over in debt through International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans with tight strings attached.

I’ll leave it to foreign relations scholars to parse the rest. What I’m concerned about is Trump’s complete lack of concern over the “shit-holiness” of the country he leads.

Gandhi taught us that a country’s greatness is measured not by its richest, but by how it treats its most vulnerable members. By this measure, the U.S. is a certified shithole.

The U.S. is the wealthiest country on earth. Yet one in five children here will go to bed hungry tonight. Thirteen million American children live in poverty, the highest rate among the world’s wealthy countries.

One shining light for poor American kids is that almost all of them have health insurance, thanks to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) put in place in 1997. That light is rather dim right now, however, as Congress waffles on funding the program, leaving millions of children’s lives in the balance.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, conducted a two-week tour of the U.S. in late 2017. He found some of the most extreme inequality anywhere in the world.

“The United States is one of the world’s richest and most powerful and technologically innovative countries,” Alston wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian, “but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.”

America also has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, the highest infant mortality rate among developed countries, and is the only industrialized country not to guarantee health care as a basic human right. The list goes on, but you get the point.

As Alston put it, “Americans can expect to live shorter and sicker lives, compared to people living in any other rich democracy.”

This is not to say that many, many Americans aren’t living happy, healthy, wealthy lives. They are. And some kids born into poverty will someday work their way to financial security. But the proportion of those actually succeed is steadily shrinking.

Still, this is a country where disoriented hospital patients can be dumped on the street in freezing cold weather, wearing only their thin hospital gowns—as a viral videorecently captured happening to a woman in Baltimore.

Fortunately, far from the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, dedicated activists and organizers are working tirelessly to make the U.S. a better place. Social movements like the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter, Indivisible, #MeToo, and a new Poor People’s Campaign are leading the nation in this direction.

Leaders, some whose names we’ll never know, are doing the tireless work to right the wrongs and correct deep-rooted injustices. They know that despite Trump’s slogan, this country has never really been “great” for everyone. They’re the ones working to clean this shithole up.

By Josh Hoxie / Fortune

Posted by The NON-Conformist

US-led anti-ISIS coalition under-reports civilian deaths – and the media lets them get away with it

The US-led coalition against ISIS has vastly played down the number of civilians that have been killed in Iraq as a result of their own airstrikes. In fact, the war against ISIS may be the ‘least transparent war in recent American history.’

The conclusion comes from a report published by the New York Times, reporters Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal spent 18 months investigating coalition bombing in Iraq, traveling to more than 150 sites of airstrikes across the northern part of the country. Their goal was to determine which air force launched which strikes — and whom they killed.

Troubling findings

The US-led coalition has admitted to killing civilians in a tiny minority of airstrikes. According to official figures, one civilian has been killed for every 157 airstrikes. In reality, Khan and Gopal found the actual rate is one civilian died for every five airstrikes. That means the rate of civilian deaths is 31 times higher than the US military has admitted.

The report said the most common justification given by the coalition when denying civilian casualty allegations is that it has “no record” of carrying out a strike at the time or area in question. This response, which amounts to brushing off the allegation, places the blame at someone else’s feet. The military washes their hands of the incident, and there is very little probing by politicians or the media after that.

Another excuse given by the US military is that civilians may have driven a vehicle into a target area after a bomb has been dropped and as such their deaths or injuries are unavoidable accidents – just more collateral damage.

But Khan and Gopal’s reporting calls into question some of these excuses. They found multiple discrepancies between dates and locations of strikes and what was recorded in official logs.

They also found that in about half of the strikes that killed civilians, there was “no discernible ISIS target nearby,” meaning the excuse that civilians happened to be unfortunately in the way does not always hold up. Many of those strikes, the report says, were based on “poor or outdated intelligence.”

Worse still, when civilians are indeed near legitimate ISIS targets, they are “considered guilty until proven innocent,” and those who survive the strikes “remain marked as possible ISIS sympathizers, with no discernable path to clear their names.”

Basim Razzo is one of those with a target on his head. Razzo, the Times story explains, was sleeping when a US coalition strike reduced his home in Mosul to rubble in 2015. The attack killed his wife and daughter, as well as his brother and nephew in the neighboring house. The same day, the US military uploaded a video of the strike to YouTube claiming it had destroyed an ISIS car-bomb facility, but in actual fact, it had demolished two family homes and the death’s of Razzo’s family members were never acknowledged until the Times reporters raised their case with coalition officials.

Coverage too late

When strikes like this occur, most in the media take US military officials at their word. There is very little inquiry as to the veracity of the claims regarding the numbers of civilians killed, the time and location of strikes and so on. When the media does report on civilian deaths or suggest that numbers may be higher than the US military leads us to believe, it is done in a clinical manner, and there is rarely any investigative follow-up reporting done. When caused by US coalition forces, civilian deaths are generally regarded as inevitable collateral damage.

The opposite appears to be true in the case of civilians deaths caused by either the Syrian or Russian air forces in Syria, for example. Those cases are regarded as reckless, barbaric attacks on civilians, and the more emotion-laden headlines the media can pump out about them, the better.

Khan and Gopal found “a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all.”

Perhaps that would not be the case if those in the mainstream media were putting the pressure on the US military to properly investigate reports of civilians deaths and casualties. But just as there is no will within the military to investigate these incidents, there is no will within the media to properly investigate or hold military officials accountable. Nor is there, unsurprisingly, much political will in Washington DC to investigate civilian deaths caused by American military operations.

Our interventionism in the Middle East has not made the United States or the world any safer. Instead of calling for regime change, we need a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy.

One incident which did receive considerable coverage internationally was a US strike in Mosul in March of this year, which reportedly killed up to 200 civilians (although locals estimated up to 600 deaths). But even in such a severe case, there was very little media follow-up as to how many civilians were actually killed by those coalition strikes and the initial anger quickly dissipated.

How quickly we all forget is indicative of the attitude which says that certain numbers of civilian deaths are acceptable and even permissible during a war. Those deaths are merely a “fact of life”according to US Defense Secretary General James Mattis.

More exposure?

This new report is a serious feat of investigative journalism. It should shine a much-needed spotlight on the reality of what the US military falsely claims is “one of the most precise air campaigns in military history.”

Unfortunately, few major outlets have followed up on the Times report. It has not been radio silence. There has been some follow-up. Both MSNBC and CBS ran short segments about the report. It was also covered by Vox, Business Insider, Esquire, The Week — and some lesser known websites. Indeed, there has not been a huge amount of coverage.

It is hard to imagine the coverage would have been so contained if Khan and Gopal had been reporting on casualties caused, for example, by the Russian or Syrian militaries.

It is also hard to imagine how this “fact of life” attitude toward civilian deaths in places like Iraq and Syria would stand up if the bombs were hitting American homes and wiping out American families as they slept. How many deaths would be acceptable then?

Of course, the media can’t control how the US-led coalition operates in places like Iraq or Syria, but it is undeniable that the lack of sustained interrogation from journalists makes it a lot easier for the US military and its allies to continue killing civilians, not bothered by any kind of serious public criticism.

By Danielle Ryan/RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Russia warns US it will strike back if militia attacks in Syria don’t end

Moscow has warned the US that if militias it supports in northeast Syria again attack positions of pro-government forces backed by Russia, the Russian military will use all its force to retaliate.

The troops of the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF), a predominantly Kurdish militia that receives support from the US military, have twice attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Deir ez-Zor governorate with mortar and rocket fire, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

“Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed,” Konashenkov said, adding that the attacks put at risk Russian military advisers embedded with Syrian government troops.

“Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary,” he stressed.

Konashenkov said Moscow suspected the SDF of colluding with the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) in Deir ez-Zor rather than fighting it, as it claims to be. He said Russia had detected the transfer of SDF fighters from the IS stronghold of Raqqa, to join forces with the jihadists.

“SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” the Russian general said.

The statement said that the siege of Raqqa by the SDF has been halted, apparently in response to the latest advances by Syrian government forces in Deir ez-Zor, which is located to the east from Raqqa along the Euphrates River.

“The central parts of the former ISIL capital, which account for roughly 25 percent of the city, remain under full control of the terrorists,” Konashenkov remarked.

According to the statement, in the last 24 hours Syrian government troops “continued their offensive operation” to destroy the last “IS bridgehead” near the city of Deir ez-Zor, the provincial capital. Troops led by Syrian Army General Suheil al-Hassan liberated around 16 sq km of territory and two settlements on the western bank of the Euphrates River.

“More than 85 percent of Deir ez-Zor’s territory is under the full control of Syrian troops. Over the next week the city will be liberated completely,” Konashenkov said.

The city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria was besieged by Islamic State in 2014. Syrian government forces lifted the blockade of the city in early September.

However, the liberation of Deir ez-Zor also triggered a confrontation between Syrian government forces and the US-backed SDF militants, the point of contention being control of Deir ez-Zor’s oil fields.

Following Damascus’s strategic victory, food, medicine and other essentials started to reach the city by convoy, where previously the inhabitants had to rely on air-drops.

The escalation of tension in eastern Syria is mirrored in the western Idlib governorate, where militant forces this week attacked Syrian positions in a designated de-escalation zone. The offensive threatened a unit of Russian military police, who were stationed in the area to monitor the ceasefire. Russia mounted an emergency rescue operation on Wednesday, in which three Russian special operations troops were injured. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the militants’ offensive had been instigated by US special services.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

FDA approves 1st ‘living drug’ to treat cancer in the US

FDA approves 1st ‘living drug’ to treat cancer in the US

© National Cancer Institute \ Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever gene therapy to treat cancer in the US. The treatment offers a totally new approach to fighting the disease and could lead to novel treatments of other serious and life-threatening maladies.

On Wednesday, the FDA approved a new leukemia treatment from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which the agency said is “the first gene therapy available in the United States.”

The treatment, called Kymriah, is a “genetically-modified autologous T-cell immunotherapy,” where each dose is created by using the patient’s own T-cells, a type of white blood cell known as a lymphocyte.

Each patient’s T-cells are sent to a manufacturing center where they are genetically modified to include a new gene that contains a specific protein, called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The CAR-T cells known as “a living drug,” are then infused back into the patient, where they target and kill leukemia cells.

“We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “New technologies such as gene and cell therapies hold out the potential to transform medicine and create an inflection point in our ability to treat and even cure many intractable illnesses.”


The treatment has been approved for patients up to the age of 25 who have a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the bone marrow and blood, that is refractory or in second or later relapse.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common childhood cancer in the US, affecting approximately 3,100 patients aged 20 and younger, according to the National Cancer Institute.

With the CAR-T cell therapy, 90 percent of young patients suffering from ALL who used to be considered fatal cases are now able to recover, according to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

The FDA said that Kymriah was shown to be safe and effective in the clinical trials of 63 pediatric and young adult patients with ALL.

“Kymriah is a first-of-its-kind treatment approach that fills an important unmet need for children and young adults with this serious disease,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), said in a statement. “Not only does Kymriah provide these patients with a new treatment option where very limited options existed, but a treatment option that has shown promising remission and survival rates in clinical trials.”

Try this at home: approves 1st direct-to-consumer tests for genetic risk of disease http://on.rt.com/884j 

Novartis, the company behind the treatment, said that they are working to “change the course of cancer care.”

“As a breakthrough immunocellular therapy for children and young adults who desperately need new options, Kymriah truly embodies our mission to discover new ways to improve patient outcomes and the way cancer is treated,” Bruno Strigini, CEO of Novartis Oncology, said in a statement.

Novartis also said the FDA approved a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for Kymriah. The program will inform and educate healthcare professionals about the treatment and the risks that are associated with it.

The company also states they are establishing a network of certified treatment centers across the US, which they said will be “fully trained on the use of Kymriah and appropriate patient care.”

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist