December 11, 2013 - More than half a dozen organizations representing healthcare systems and providers, advocates and patients with cancer have renewed their efforts as the Missouri Coalition for Cancer Treatment Access to educate and urge state legislators to pass legislation to assure that patients who use a pill and targeted therapy to treat their cancer have equal out-of-pocket costs as those who are prescribed intravenously infused (IV) medications. The bill removes insurers' ability to discriminate against patients that receive their treatment from a pharmacy rather than in a clinic or hospital.
Developing innovative, patient-administered medicines is an increasing trend ? approximately 35 percent of all cancer drugs currently under development are oral or patient-administered treatments; and are now recognized as the standard of care and do not have an IV equivalent.
"One example of pediatric leukemia treatment protocol is 3 years with weekly visits to the clinic for IV chemotherapy. The chemo kills all cells - good and bad. New oral therapies like Gleevec and Rituxan target and kill cancer cells exclusively. Therefore many of the side effects are mitigated. The family and patient just want their lives to go back to 'normal' after a cancer diagnosis and targeted oral therapies make that happen," says Debbie Kersting, executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Gateway Chapter.
"A study published January 3, 2013 in the Journal of Medical Economics studied overall treatment costs in Multiple Myeloma patients and demonstrated lower overall costs for those patients taking oral therapies. The annual treatment costs for the IV therapy were approximately $17,000 more per year due to administration costs like nursing and facility fees," explains JoAnn Shaw, board chair of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Gateway Chapter, healthcare executive, patient and four time cancer survivor.
The coalition also has support from Dr. Kevin P. Hubbard (DO, FACOI, Medical Oncology/Hematology and Hospice/Palliative Medicine specialist), a member of the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons. Dr. Hubbard explains, "I have been taking care of Missourians in my oncology practice for over 20 years, and have found that oral cancer therapies have been effective in treating a wide variety of cancers with acceptable toxicity. When asked, most patients tell me that they prefer to remain out of the hospital or clinic to receive their treatment. They greatly appreciate the opportunity of having more personal time to spend as they choose rather than having their time dictated to them by therapies that require intravenous administration and long days in a chemo chair."
Statewide Coalition Gathers to Support Cancer Treatment Fairness Act
Oral anti-cancer medications offer patients many advantages in living with their disease. Many of the newly developed oral medications, which are now the standard of care for many cancers, are targeted to attack only the cancer cells, and don't have the side effects of some older IV therapies. "Patients using oral anti-cancer medications are able to return to a normal life, including their work, faster and easier. Advantages of these drugs include less time off work for lengthy infusion appointments and fewer sick days from side effects. Patients can retain their quality of life while receiving treatment. In turn, this may diminish the likelihood of financial instability resulting from job loss and may also lead to a reduced reliance on short- and long-term disability," explains Shaw.
Already, 27 states and Washington, D.C., have established new laws to eliminate this disparity. "Our Coalition expects to have bi-partisan support on this common sense solution for Missouri residents who will face cancer in their lives. The Coalition looks forward to working with Senator Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) as they once again lead the effort in the Legislature to count Missouri among the states where patients have fairness in cancer treatment through access to these oral medications," concludes Kersting.
Current Missouri Coalition for Cancer Treatment Access includes:
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
International Myeloma Foundation
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
St. Louis Breast Cancer Coalition
Susan G. Komen for the Cure St. Louis
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Kansas City
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Mid-Missouri
National Patient Advocate Foundation
Missouri Oral Chemotherapy Parity Interim Committee appointed by Gov. Nixon:
Mrs. Peggy Dunn Brand - Representative of Pharma/Biotech Company
Ms. Deborah Ann Kersting - Patient Advocate
Mr. Andrew Brian Wheeler - Representative from Hospital Organization
Dr. Mary M Klix -Licensed Oncologist
Ms. Maryann R. Coletti - Licensed Oncology Nurse
Mr. Daniel Brouillet - Rep of MO Pharmaceutical Benefit Management Company
Mrs. Karen Elaine Miller -Representative of Health Carrier
Mrs. Stacy Reliford - Representative of American Cancer Society
Dr. Stephen Jude Glenski - Representative from Pharmacists Organization
Representative Sheila Solon - Member of the House of Representatives 1
Representative Todd Richardson - Member of the House of Representatives 2
Senator Brian Munzlinger - Member of the Senate 1
Senator Kiki Curls ? Member of the Senate 2
More information: http://boards.mo.gov/userpages/Board.aspx?160
For more information or if you would like to speak to patients/advocates they will be present at the 11 a.m. meeting at the House Hearing room 6 and available after the hearing. For additional information, please contact Debbie Kersting at debbie.kersting@LLS.org or 314-660-9956.