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Florida Weekly – Chemotherapy gets easier for Florida patients

September 26, 2013

Susan Kristoff has a demanding full-time job, fighting the mutant cells she’s lived with for 11 years. Cancer keeps her on the road, traveling from her condo in West Palm Beach to her sister’s place in Orlando as she seeks the most effective treatments.

That has included Tykerb, a pill taken at home as a more targeted and less painful alternative to chemotherapy at a clinic. But her insurance plan required a co-pay of $3,000 per month because the medicine comes in the form of pills — while a co-pay for traditional chemotherapy at a clinic was around $50 or less.

Cancer patients in Florida have faced this disparity between the cost of pills and clinical visits for years. Now, thanks to the advocacy efforts of people like Ms. Kristoff and groups such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, that’s changing.

The 2013 Cancer Treatment Fairness Act requires that Florida insurers provide coverage for oral cancer drugs that is on par with traditional treatments such as those delivered intravenously. It’s set to take effect July 1, 2014.

For patients, it should help clear a path to the medicine their doctors prescribe, instead of being saddled with huge co- pays as they battle a deadly disease.

“There will be more options for patients —they will have the option to take that oral medication,” said Kathy Kerley an oncology patient navigator at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte.

Otherwise called the oral parity bill, it was approved by state legislators in May with relative ease, then signed into law, even though the insurance industry opposed it.

Read more here.