Reprinted from Opinion Letters to the Editor
The Wichita Eagle
Senator Jerry Moran deserves praise for his sponsorship and support of the Cancer Drug Parity Act of 2019. As a practicing cancer physician, I can attest to the fact that this bipartisan effort will save the lives of many Americans who suffer from cancer.
In many ways, oral chemotherapy represents modern medicine at its best. As we understand better the fundamental biology of cancer, new drugs are developed that target specific pathways within cancer cells. In many cases, these drugs are dramatically more effective than previous cancer treatments and have fewer side effects. With this success we will see more oral cancer drugs in the future – 25% of current drugs are oral and this number is expected to be 50% in the next 25 years.
Oral cancer drugs and intravenous cancer drugs are covered under different portions of the patient’s insurance plan. It is quite common that my patients will have little to no co-pay for an intravenous drug, but for an oral chemotherapy drug, they often face large out-of-pocket expenses. Many patients are denied optimal therapy for their condition due to an inability to pay that has been artificially manufactured by their insurance coverage.
The Cancer Drug Parity Act of 2019 seeks to change that.
Specifically, the bill would mandate that patient out-of-pocket expenses for oral drugs would be comparable to that of their intravenous counterparts. By doing so, patients would no longer be subject to having arbitrary out-of-pocket expenses influence optimally treating the cancer. As oral drugs become an increasingly important part of our cancer treating arsenal, now is the time to ensure that all Americans have access to these life-saving drugs.
As a primary sponsor of this bill, Senator Moran should be praised for an effort in Washington that clearly has the best interests of the American public in mind. As a treating oncologist, a member of the Susan G Komen Kansas & Western Missouri Affiliate Board of Directors, the cancer treatment community and our patients we applaud his efforts.
Marc S Hoffmann, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics
University of Kansas Cancer Center
Board Member, Susan G Komen Kansas & Western Missouri Affiliate