--Principles Emphasize the Three "R's" of Health Care: Research, Reimbursement and Resources--
--Federal Legislation to Require Equitable Insurance Coverage for All Treatments, Oral and I.V. , Gains Bi-Partisan Support in the House--
New Orleans, LA, December 3, 2009 – A coalition of cancer patient advocacy organizations led by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and the MDS Foundation (MDSF), will bring its cancer patient "Statement of Principles" to the 2009 Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in New Orleans December 5th through 8th. The Principles emphasize equal insurance coverage, prevention research, continued innovation, early approvals, and expanded access to experimental drugs, all vitally important to patients with incurable-but-treatable cancers. The "Statement of Principles," first launched at the ASCO cancer conference this spring, comes to ASH with the support of patients nationwide, an active legislative campaign, and bi-partisan support for state and federal initiatives that address the issues raised by this program.
"Together we must work to see that orally-administered cancer pills are covered at the same rate as intravenous and injectable drugs," said Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), who introduced H.R. 2366, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act of 2009. "It surprises many people to learn patients pay more out of pocket for a pill they take home than for an I.V. infusion at a medical setting. Cancer patients should be able to focus on fighting the disease rather than fighting the insurance company for parity reimbursement on a treatment that could alleviate suffering and improve outcomes. "
Beyond fighting for insurance reimbursement based on medical need, the Principles call for an expedited drug approval system for patients with life-threatening conditions, and call for easier access to new drugs while they are still in the approval process.
"When I developed an infection, my cancer drug stopped working," said former NFL linebacker Elijah Alexander, a myeloma patient and founder of the Tackle Cancer Foundation. "A new drug, pomalidomide, was waiting in the wings, but for me to get pomalidomide, I had to travel out of state to take part in a clinical trial. I'm fortunate to have the strength and resources to do that, but it's a burden that many cancer patients cannot and should not have to face. "
The Principles are timed to continue the momentum in research and treatment that have improved patients' lives. This year a study confirmed that for the first time an innovative drug (VIDAZA®) extends survival for patients with higher-risk MDS. With multiple myeloma, the novel therapies have extended survival from 3 years to 5, 8, 10 years and beyond.
"In short we are fighting for the three R's," said Susie Novis, president and co-founder of the IMF. "We need Research, Reimbursement and Resources, because with these changes we can improve care, save money by streamlining drug access and approvals, and give patients the chance for the rich, full lives they deserve. "
Supporters can visit the "Statement of Principles" booth at ASH, or learn more at the advocacy page on the IMF Website, advocacy.myeloma.org, and Twitter CP4EA (cancer patients 4 equal access).
ABOUT THE STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES:
- Prevention is the key to reducing the burden of cancer
- Continuing innovation is critical to early diagnosis and better treatment
- Patients need and deserve an equitable, patient-oriented insurance system that acknowledges and covers 21st Century tests and treatments
- Early approval of new treatments for deadly cancers is essential
- Patients who have exhausted approved therapies need simplified access to experimental agents whenever possible
Contact: GL BioCom Partners:
Stephen Gendel 212-918-4655
Deanne Eagle 917-837-5866