Medicare Covers CAR T; HPV Vaccine Confusion; Officials Target Drug Makers
Medicare Will Cover CAR T-Cell Therapy
The decision to allow Medicare to cover the cost of CAR T-cell therapy (https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/08/07/medicare-will-cover-pioneering-cancer-treatment-nationwide/)—a new and expensive form of immunotherapy (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/novel-therapies-how-car-t-cells-and-biosimilars-are-changing-cancer-care)—is an important one for patients seeking the treatment, especially after rounds of failed tradition therapies. Educating federal agencies and government representatives about the importance of new treatments like CAR T cells have helped drive coverage decisions, and the patient advocacy community—like ONS’s very own advocates (https://voice.ons.org/stories/oncology-nurses-must-share-experiences-perspectives-to-advocate-for-change)—are to thank.
As new medications, devices, and treatments are developed and approved at extraordinary rates, federal authorities must keep up with the evolving standard of care. In this case, much of the discussion involved the cost of the treatment and whether it should be covered by Medicare. This is an example of where the conversation must go next when speaking about access and affordability to health care. The science behind treatments is rarely in doubt. Like most things in health care, it’s the financial impact that’s most concerning. Join your voice to advocacy efforts and help educate lawmakers and agency officials (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/get-involved) about new treatments and issues patients with cancer face.
HPV Vaccine Advice Could Leave Adults Confused
The number of people vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) has dramatically increased—with great effort and education from oncology nurses—especially school-aged children and patients through their early 20s. A large public health campaign encouraged providers—especially nurses—to discuss the importance of the HPV vaccine and the scientific data (https://voice.ons.org/news-and-views/hpv-9-valent-vaccine-approved-for-people-aged-27-45) supporting its use in practice.
However, confusing and contradictory guidelines (https://khn.org/news/federal-experts-advice-on-hpv-vaccine-could-leave-adults-confused/) from the federal government muddied the educational efforts (https://www.statnews.com/2019/06/26/u-s-advisory-panel-stops-short-of-broad-recommendations-for-two-common-vaccines/) and gave Americans who doubt the importance of all vaccines more excuses. Although the latest recommendation suggests that patients discuss it with their providers, it’s important for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review their recommendations regularly to make formal announcements about which patients it could benefit the most (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/cdc-encourages-screening-vaccination-for-hpv-to-fight-cervical-cancer). With the HPV vaccine in headlines, oncology nurses may face questions from patients and family members about whether it’s right for them. Learn more about the importance of HPV vaccination for your patients at the ONS Voice (https://voice.ons.org/stories/the-importance-of-hpv-vaccination-for-your-patients).
Lawmakers Accuse Drug Makers of Stonewalling Price-Fixing Probe
Drug pricing remains a bipartisan issue (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/the-battle-against-drug-pricing-wages-on), and the pharmaceutical industry’s malaise when responding to congressional inquiries has only helped bring the two political parties together. Two House and Senate leaders are requesting information and accusing drug manufacturers of stonewalling efforts (https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/years-after-original-probe-sanders-and-cummings-keep-pressing-teva-and-mylan-for-drug) to fix the drug pricing, efforts that could bring trouble to big pharmaceutical companies.
In matters like this, it is almost always better for an industry to self-report rather than to have a congressional panel dictate a number of punitive options for the private sector. Both sides are digging in their heels and playing the long game, but the winner is often the one with subpoena power. Learn more about the drug pricing issue (https://voice.ons.org/advocacy/surprise-billing-legislation-drug-pricing-reform-stalls-gops-aca-repeal), surprise medical bills, and what elected officials are doing about it on the Oncology Nursing Podcast (https://www.ons.org/podcasts/episode-62-financial-toxicity-legislation).