Medicare Widens Drugs It Accepts for Cancer
Source: New York Times
The New York Times is running an article on Medicare’s announcement that it has expanded its coverage policy to pay for off-label use of cancer drugs. The decision has been welcomed by most oncologists around the country, but there is concern among other physicians, as well as consumer advocates, that the decision will lead to more money being spent on treatments that have not been proven effective.
When the FDA approves a drug, it does so for the treatment of a particular disorder. However, once the drug has been approved, physicians are allowed to prescribe the drug for uses that it was not approved for. This is known as “off-label” use and is a common use for many different agents. However, off-label use has not traditionally been subsidized by Medicare, so its recent decision represents a major break with past policy. Cancer doctors are generally happy with the change, as most have lobbied for it for many years now. They see the rule change as an important step in their ability to treat their patients. While FDA approval is the gold standard for every drug, the process can take years to work through the system and for many cancer patients, years might not be an option for them. However, critics of the change fear that cancer patients may end up as guinea pigs for non-standard drug treatments and that Medicare costs will sky-rocket due to so many more drugs now being available for coverage.
To read more about this story, please see the full article: Medicare Widens Drugs It Accepts for Cancer.