RPCI Commends Lawmakers For Addressing Inequity In Coverage

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bill Passed by NYS Senate and Assembly Requires Parity for Oral Chemotherapy Drugs

BUFFALO, NY — Clinical and administrative leaders at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) commend the New York State Legislature for taking steps to remove a barrier that has prevented many New Yorkers from accessing needed chemotherapy drugs.

Both houses of the Legislature voted this week to approve legislation removing cost as a barrier for high-quality, targeted cancer care. The bill, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seeks to eliminate a cost disparity that has left countless cancer patients unable to afford oral chemotherapies.

“This is outstanding news for people with cancer, who now have dramatically improved access to some of the most advanced and promising therapies,” said Alex Adjei, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Medicine and Senior Vice President of Clinical Research at RPCI. “Discovery and innovation are constantly changing the way we treat cancer, and the bill just passed by the New York State Senate and Assembly is an appropriate and crucially important response to such developments.”

Oral chemotherapies are often the best treatments available for cancer patients, and many of the emerging and most effective cancer therapies are available only in pill form. But currently, many oral drugs mean much higher out-of-pocket costs for patients than intravenous (IV) chemotherapies, making these life-saving treatments difficult for many patients to afford.

RPCI’s senior leaders applaud Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the sponsors of the legislation, Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Vito Lopez, for their leadership in addressing this very dangerous disparity in insurance coverage.

RPCI urges Governor Cuomo to sign the bill into law quickly so that New Yorkers who are fighting cancer know that the treatments they need will be covered, regardless of whether they receive them through an infusion or in a pill, in a medical facility or at home.

Roswell Park worked in partnership with a coalition that included the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance and 1 in 9: The Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition to advocate for this bill.

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at http://www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org