Raleigh, NC- Yesterday, HB 306 NC Cancer Treatment Fairness passed the House of Representatives by a bi-partisan vote of 104-10. Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Rep. Larry Hall (D-Durham), Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth) and Rep. Marilyn Avila (R-Wake) filed HB 306 NC Cancer Treatment Fairness Act last month. This bill meets the vital needs of many North Carolinians by improving access to life saving oral cancer medications, some of which are the most effective medications on the market today.
This bill also seeks to address a serious healthcare issue. Out of pocket expenses for patients prescribed an oral cancer treatment regime are cost prohibitive. In fact, studies show that out of pocket costs greater than $200 were at least three times more likely to choose not to fill their prescriptions than those with costs of $100 or less.
Scientists and Oncologists across the nation recognize the cost savings in total treatment costs for oral therapies over traditional IV medications. Currently, oral cancer drugs can be extremely costly for patients because insurance plan design has not kept pace with advances in chemotherapy treatment. This is unfairly penalizing patients utilizing newly created orally cancer drugs, and it’s time to recognize the industry wide savings that a more broad based distribution of oral cancer therapies can bring to the health care system. A study by Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefits manager for insurance companies, says that “high out-of-pocket costs may have an impact on patient care and therefore long-term costs.”
Thirty-seven states have already passed some form of chemotherapy parity legislation. The old ‘one size fits all’ cancer treatment adversely affects many families and access to an oral chemotherapy drug would lift the burden of expensive and time consuming treatments.
“Expanding treatment options to cost saving drugs that prove to be extremely effective is the right thing to do for the people of North Carolina,” said Rep. Lewis. “There is no good reason that a person should have to choose to take an IV drug over an oral drug because of a co-pay differential. This bill simply increases access to an effective form of treatment that is often preferable to IV chemotherapy.”
Rep. Lewis also said, “New research shows that oral chemotherapy is the cornerstone of cancer therapy. In some cases, oral chemotherapy is the only option. We can’t deny our citizens a better quality of life.”
This bill is now in the Senate for consideration.