WASHINGTON, Nov. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In a significant stride toward ensuring equitable access to cancer treatments, Members of the House of Representatives reintroduced the Cancer Drug Parity Act today. The bill has garnered widespread endorsement from prominent healthcare organizations and patient advocacy groups.
The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF), which leads the Coalition to Improve Access to Cancer Care (CIACC), fervently supports the Cancer Drug Parity Act, recognizing its profound impact on myeloma patients and their families. “The passage of this legislation would be a crucial step forward for myeloma patients, ensuring equal access to essential treatments without undue financial burden,” said Danielle Doheny, the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at the IMF. “We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Grothman, Bonamici, Bilirakis, Morelle, Fitzpatrick, Higgins, and Matsui. We strongly support the reintroduction of this bill and call for its prompt passage, marking a significant stride towards equitable and practical care for myeloma patients.”
Dr. Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer with the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), emphasized the critical importance of the Act, stating, “We’ve seen tremendous progress in cancer treatments and the Cancer Drug Parity Act would protect patients’ access to the treatments their doctors prescribe. By ensuring that patient cost sharing for oral anticancer drugs is no less favorable than for IV chemotherapy, the bill would help remove one financial barrier to care and ensure patients get the right treatment at the right time. We applaud the reintroduction of the bill and urge its quick passage.”
The AIM at Melanoma Foundation echoed this sentiment, asserting that the Act prioritizes patients’ needs above all. Their President, Sam Guild stated, “Cancer patients should be battling their disease, not their insurance company. The Cancer Drug Parity Act would put the needs of patients first to ensure that patients, along with their healthcare providers, can choose the treatment option they deem is most appropriate”.
The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) expressed their strong commitment to facilitating access to quality cancer care for all patients and how this bill helps advance that mission. ONS Chief Clinical Officer, Erica Fischer-Cartlidge, DNP, RN, AOCNS, EBP(CH) underscored, “The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) is committed to ensuring that all patients can access all forms of quality cancer care. This bill allows oncology care teams and patients to make treatment decisions based on what works best for that patient, and not based on financial concerns. ONS is proud to support the Cancer Drug Parity Act and commends the bill’s sponsors for their leadership in ensuring parity for oral cancer treatments.”
Recognizing the pressing need for equitable access to cancer treatments, Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), emphasized the critical issue of disparities in cost-sharing for oral chemotherapy medications. Lacasse said, “Disparities in cost-sharing for oral chemotherapy medications can impact patient and physician decision-making and may lead to patients forgoing the best treatment for their disease. “This is an unacceptable reality. The Cancer Drug Parity Act helps remove this barrier to optimal treatment, and we urge Congress to advance this critical, bipartisan legislation swiftly.”
LeAnne Kennedy, a hematology/oncology pharmacist and president of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association shed light on the challenging decisions providers often face. She pointed out, “As providers, we are often forced to choose between the best treatment for patients, and what they can afford. The proposed legislation seeks to eliminate this discrepancy and promote access to the most suitable treatments for cancer patients. If passed, the Cancer Drug Parity Act could help remove cost-related barriers that limit patients’ options, ensuring that they have access to oral anticancer therapies on par with intravenous mediations. This would allow providers to make treatment decisions based on the evidence and the patient’s specific needs, rather than financial constraints.”
Association of American Cancer Institutes also expressed strong support for this bill stating, “The Cancer Drug Parity Act has been a consistent public policy priority for the Association of American Cancer Institutes. The association said it is hopeful that reintroduction of the bill will bring it one step closer to reality, citing its potential to break down financial barriers to care and eliminate disparities that prevent patients from receiving the cancer treatment most appropriate for their diagnosis.”
The Lymphoma Research Foundation also supports and endorses this bill. “The advent of effective oral therapies marked a significant change in the way many people with lymphoma and CLL receive treatment,” said Meghan Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer, Lymphoma Research Foundation. “To ensure patients receive the right therapies at the right time, and achieve the best outcomes, significant attention must be paid to access to these treatments. The patient-centered Cancer Drug Parity Act is an important step to ensuring access to these potentially life-saving therapies.”
The Cancer Drug Parity Act was introduced by Representatives Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Joe Morelle (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), and Doris Matsui (D-CA) and seeks to level the playing field for cancer patients by ensuring that the cost-sharing for oral anticancer drugs is on par with intravenous chemotherapy, thereby removing a significant financial obstacle to effective treatment.
By requiring equal coverage for both forms of treatment, the bill empowers patients and their healthcare providers to make decisions based on what is medically optimal, rather than being influenced by financial considerations. State laws have passed in 44 states and Washington D.C. however this bill is needed for individuals with federally regulated health insurance.
For more information on the Cancer Drug Parity Act and its potential impact on cancer care, please visit https://www.access2cancercare.org/.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
International Myeloma Foundation