Senate Approves Bill Addressing Cancer Drug Cost Disparity

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Senator Don White voted for a measure approved by the Senate today (June 28) that improves accessibility of oral chemotherapy treatments and urged his colleagues to continue that effort by supporting legislative action to address health care affordability.

Currently, intravenous chemotherapy medications are usually covered under a health plan’s medical benefit, often only requiring a minimal fixed co-payment. Oral chemotherapy medications are often covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit and require patients to pay a percentage of the total cost of the drug, generally between 25 to 30 percent. House Bill 60, which addresses the cost disparity between intravenous and oral chemotherapy treatments, returns to the House of Representatives for concurrence on Senate amendments.

“While House Bill 60 is a positive development in fighting cancer, the debate surrounding this issue also exposes one of the main cost drivers in the overall cost of healthcare – prescription drug costs,” Senator White said in comments on the floor of the Senate prior to the bill’s passage.  “Indeed, if prescription costs for oral chemotherapy were not so astronomical, we likely wouldn’t be passing this legislation today.”

Senator White urged his colleagues to also support Senate Bill 893, which would provide openness and transparency to the pricing and cost of prescription drugs.

“I ask those who advocated for passage of House Bill 60 to join me with the same level of passion and commitment to take meaningful steps in addressing the underlying issue, the cost of prescription drug pricing,” Senator White said.

Contact:          Joe Pittman     jpittman@pasen.gov