FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lori Gardner, Senior Director
Communications & Marketing
301.984.9496 ext. 226
For Immediate Release: September 15, 2005
Association of Community Cancer Centers’ National Oncology Economics Conference Highlights Extent of Off-Label Drug Use
New Policy Direction May Discourage Docs, Delay Innovations in Cancer Care, Study Finds
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Proposed coverage policy may pose limitations for physicians who want to prescribe off-label drugs for cancer treatment, according to a study released at the Association of Community Cancer Centers’ (ACCC) 22nd National Oncology Economics Conference on September 15, 2005.
Oncologists say that off-label use of anticancer therapies is essential in helping patients with rare and advanced cancers, reports Covance Market Access Services, Inc., which conducted the study.
Many oncologists report that restrictive coverage policies cause them to change their treatment decisions. Fifteen of 28 oncologists interviewed report that Medicare non-coverage frequently or very frequently causes them to alter their treatment decisions, while eight report that private payer policies have this effect.
"Oncologists place high importance on off-label use of anticancer medicines in caring for their patients,” said Deborah Walter, ACCC Senior Director, Policy and Government Affairs. “It is imperative to recognize the wide range of medically appropriate off-label uses and evidence sources that oncologists rely on to support such uses."
"Further study is needed to assess the extent that coverage and reimbursement policy impacts patients' ability to receive off-label anticancer therapies," added Walter.
For its study, Covance interviewed oncologists and oncology practice managers from across the country to better understand trends in off-label use of cancer treatments. Covance also researched coverage and reimbursement policies for off-label anticancer therapies followed by local Medicare carriers and private payers. The study revealed that nearly 70 percent of oncologists interviewed think off-label use of cancer treatments is important in their overall treatment plans for patients.
The study was co-sponsored by the Association of Community Cancer Centers, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Bio, and other advocacy groups.