Providing the Right Care for Cancer Patients Might Mean Changing Federal Law

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Bob Hallinan

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         Chemotherapy drugs can now be delivered orally, via a pill, instead of in an IV line or a shot. Unfortunately, the way drugs are paid for sometimes means that patients who get chemotherapy orally incur more costs. Roy Jensen, MD, Director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, explains why disparity in chemotherapy drug pricing is “just wrong.”

A bill introduced in the US Senate last month by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), known as the Cancer Drug Parity Act, is a bi-partisan bill intended to make certain oral cancer drugs are covered in the same way as traditional (IV) chemotherapy to bring down costs for Americans battling cancer.

“Many patients face obstacles when accessing oral chemotherapy drugs,” said Jensen, who also is President of the Association of American Cancer Institutes, which represents 98 academic cancer centers across North America. “At a time when developments in cancer care are advancing rapidly, it is essential for cancer centers like ours to provide patients with access to the best treatment. For some patients, there are no viable alternatives to oral chemotherapy drugs, which often come with high out-of-pocket costs. Oral chemotherapy is a priority for KU Cancer Center and for AACI, and we are delighted that Senators Moran and Smith are introducing this much-needed legislation.”

In the video, Dr. Jensen explains the issue of oral chemotherapy parity and addresses why it is important to patients. He also explains his new role as president of the AACI.