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Missouri oral chemotherapy bill goes to governor’s desk

03/06/2014 4:28 PM

03/06/2014 4:28 PM

A bill aimed at lowering treatment costs for cancer patients won final legislative approval Thursday. It now awaits the signature of Gov. Jay Nixon.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Sheila Solon, a Blue Springs Republican who has championed the measure for three years. It would prohibit insurance companies from charging patients more than $75 for a 30-day supply of oral chemotherapy drugs.

Intravenous chemotherapy is usually covered as a medical benefit with flat copays and a cap on out-of-pocket costs. But patients are often charged much more for pills because they are handled as a pharmacy benefit.

Solon said roughly 30 percent of all new chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients are oral medications, making the legislation’s passage that much more significant.

“I am extremely proud that so many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle have come together with me to affirm our commitment to improving access to the best possible care for Missourians fighting cancer,” Solon said in a statement.

The House approved the measure in a 147-6 vote. The Senate passed the measure last month.

Conventional intravenous chemotherapy comes with a litany of side effects, often kills healthy cells along with cancer, and must be administered in a medical facility. Oral chemotherapy, by contrast, has fewer and less severe side effects and can be taken at home.

House Speaker Tim Jones said the bill would be among the most significant pieces of legislation passed by the legislature this year.

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