Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Medicare's Cancer Drug Expansion

Last November Medicare expanded "off label" drug uses to treat cancer by expanding from one to four guides that can be used to authorize coverage. Critics say the drug guides aren't always supported by research and could be influenced by ties to the companies manufacturing the drugs.

As an example, one of the four designated guides is published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a group of hospitals. The guide relies on panels of experts to review drugs, half of whom have financial ties with a cancer drug maker.

While it's compassionate to try and help cancer patients afford drug treatments the profit motive of the drug companies would seem to be the real reason behind this change and yet the latest illustration of their influence in Washington.

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