U.S. Sens. Tina Smith, Jerry Moran Reintroduce Bill to Make Life-saving Oral Cancer Medications More Affordable

Senators’ Reintroduce Legislation to Ensure Oral Cancer Drugs are Covered in Same Way as Traditional IV Chemotherapy

WASHINGTON, D.C. [03/12/19]—Today, U.S. Sens. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) took steps to bring down health care costs for cancer patients by reintroducing their bipartisan bill to make sure oral cancer drugs are covered in the same way as traditional intravenous (IV) chemotherapy.

Currently, over 40 states—including both Minnesota and Kansas—and the District of Columbia have passed “oral parity” laws that stop insurers from charging more for prescribed oral cancer medicine than traditional (IV) chemotherapy. Sens. Smith and Moran’s Cancer Drug Parity Act would build on this work by expanding these protections at the federal level.

“Advances in cancer treatment have made it possible for Americans to get life-saving oral cancer medication. This means people can now take the life-saving medicine they need without having to leave their homes, and in a far less intrusive way than traditional IV chemotherapy,” said Sen. Smith. “But since oral cancer medications are self-administered, many people are having to shell out more dollars because this medication isn’t covered the same way as IV treatments. I’m reintroducing my bipartisan bill with Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas to put a stop to charging more for oral cancer drugs because we should be doing all we can to make life-saving cancer treatment more affordable for all Americans.”

“Individuals suffering from cancer deserve treatment options available through their insurance,” said Sen. Moran. “As the number of oral cancer drugs increase each year, patients ought to be able to immediately benefit from these medical advancements. This sensible legislation would keep health insurance on pace with the latest cancer treatments, build on laws already implemented in 43 states and expand cancer coverage for oral drugs for 100 million individuals covered through group and individual health plans. I am a strong supporter of medical research to find new treatments, therapies and cures, and I am working to make certain these exciting new treatments can reach cancer patients and ultimately save lives.”

“Science is dramatically changing the way cancer is treated. Even with these breakthroughs, too many cancer patients can’t access their treatments because insurance rules have not kept pace with innovation,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “The Cancer Drug Parity Act will eliminate the financial barriers that stand between many cancer patients and the breakthrough treatments that could save their lives. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society applauds Senator Smith and Senator Moran for their leadership on behalf of cancer patients and stands ready to work with Congress to move this important bill forward.”

The Cancer Drug Parity Act would:

  • Prevent insurers from covering oral and self-administered medicines at different cost-sharing rates than IV chemotherapy
  • Not mandate that healthcare plans provide chemotherapy coverage, but rather only apply to plans already covering chemotherapy

In addition to Sens. Smith and Moran, the bill is also sponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). The legislation is supported by AIM at Melanoma, American Cancer Society Cancer, Action Network, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation, Association of Community Cancer Centers, Association of American Cancer Institutes, Astellas Pharma US, CancerCare, Cancer Support Community, Celgene, Community Oncology Alliance, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE), Fight Colorectal Cancer, Genentech, Inc., Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association, International Myeloma Foundation, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, LUNGevity, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Co., Medical College of Wisconsin, National Brain Tumor Society, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Oncology Nursing Society, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance, Patient Services, Incorporated, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Susan G. Komen, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Richard J Solove Institute, WVU Medicine, and Zero – The End of Prostate Cancer.

You can access a summary of the bill here and full bill text here.