House Passes Bill to Improve Access to Life Saving Oral Cancer Medications

Raleigh, NC- The North Carolina House passed HB 206 North Carolina Cancer Treatment Fairness by a strong bi-partisan vote of 90-22. HB 206 North Carolina Cancer Treatment Fairness was filed by Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake), Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), and Rep. Pat McElraft (R-Carteret) in a bi-partisan effort to meet 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.

Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry has led to effective medications that were once available only by IV treatment now available in pill form. In addition to these oral chemotherapies being effective methods of treatment, they also provide a tangible improvement to a patient’s quality of life. The ease and convenience of taking oral medication on a schedule is preferable to the time consuming process of hospitalization for intravenous medical treatment.

The goal of these laws is to provide parity for insurance customers when deciding treatment options. In some cases, oral treatment is the only available therapy. Out of pocket expenses for patients prescribed an oral cancer treatment regime are cost prohibitive.

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.

Rep. David Lewis said this after the passage of the bill through the North Carolina House:

“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. In addition to these oral chemotherapies being effective methods of treatment, they also provide a tangible improvement to a patient’s quality of life. Taking a pill on a prescribed regime is a lot easier than having to step into a hospital or treatment facility to receive an IV treatment.”

Forty-two other 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.

Rep. Lewis also said the following:

“This bill simply increases access to an effective form of treatment that is often preferable to IV chemotherapy. 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.”

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