Lawmakers Approve Help for Cancer Patients in Missouri

Published 03/20 2014 05:49PM

Updated 03/20 2014 11:10PM

There's a new law in Missouri that would help patients battling cancer.

Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill in that would make oral chemotherapy affordable for anyone battling cancer in Missouri.

The bill makes it illegal for insurance companies to charge a higher rate for the pill.

"We need to give them access to all medication whereas the IV or the oral and this just levels the playing field and gives parity to both treatments," said State Representative Sheila Solon.

Dr. Rony Abou Wawde, Board Certified Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Heartland Clinic Cancer Center, said the pills are more common now since the majority of FDA approved drugs only come in pill form.

He said oral chemotherapy is not only more convenient but it's less of a hassle since needles aren't involved. 

"They don't have to be here to get their infusion, they can take the pills at home and we monitor them," said Abou Wawde.

He said patients also have better recovery when using the pills.

"They've improved the patients survival and their quality of life and their pain," added Abou Wawde.

But the problem many patients faced with oral chemotherapy was the cost.
The out-of-pocket cost usually ranges from $100 a month to $12,000.

The new law would maximize the cost a patient pays to only $75 a month.

"Those oral chemotherapy therapies, as good as they are they also come with a financial burden. It's very difficult," said Abou Wawde.

Which is why many are happy the show-me state will soon have laws in place to keep this from happening.

"No Missourian battling cancer should have to break the bank in order to get the medicine they need," said Nixon.

The bill is estimated to impact more than one million Missourians.

It received strong support from organizations including the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the Missouri Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Missouri joins 27 other states by imposing cost control on chemotherapy.

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