TO SENS. McCAIN, KENNEDY AND EDWARDS APPLAUDING INTRODUCTION OF PATIENTS'
BILL OF RIGHTS
The Honorable John
The Honorable Edward
The Honorable John
Dear Senators McCain, Kennedy and Edwards:
On behalf of cancer patient advocates, health care professionals and research organizations, the undersigned organizations thank you for your vital leadership in introducing a Patients' Bill of Rights that provides comprehensive coverage for routine patient care costs in clinical trials. Notably, your legislation covers all high quality clinical trials, not just those sponsored by government funding agencies. As cancer drug development is increasingly undertaken by the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, it is essential that their trials be accessible to cancer patients, and your legislation will achieve this result. In addition, your bill provides a workable definition of "routine patient care costs" that will enable implementation to proceed expeditiously.
One of the primary objectives of advocacy by the cancer community over the past decade has been assured coverage of routine patient care costs in clinical trials. Last year, the Medicare program acted pursuant to executive memorandum to extend coverage to all trials conducted under the auspices of either government funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the regulatory oversight of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If such a policy is appropriate for the Medicare program, surely it should be a guaranteed right for patients under private health plans.
Recent reports in the scientific and popular press have highlighted the impressive advances in development of cancer drugs that are both more effective and less toxic than traditional treatments. People with cancer should have early access to these investigational drugs, as well as investigational devices, in the context of high quality clinical trials. Without a comprehensive coverage provision, patients will continue to be at the mercy of health plans' inconsistent approach to this issue. For this reason, we strongly support the clinical trials provisions contained in S. 283 and look forward to their eventual enactment.
The Cancer Leadership Council
Alliance for Lung
Cancer Advocacy, Support, and Education
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