CMS Makes CAR T-Cell Cancer Therapy Available to Medicare Beneficiaries

August 16, 2019 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

It’s an extraordinary time for biomedical research. Advancements in science, investments in research studies, and an increased access to patients through clinical trials have continued to transform the medical community’s understanding of cancer care and the best ways to treat and cure tumors. Achieving successful outcomes requires specific and dedicated therapies, tailored to each individual.

One of the most recently groundbreaking new treatments is chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 2017 as a potential option for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and advanced adult lymphomas. Following suit, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in August 2019 that the agency will now make CAR T-cell therapy available to and covered for Medicare enrollees.

“President Trump is committed to strengthening the Medicare program by ensuring that beneficiaries have access to new and potentially lifesaving treatments,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “As the first type of FDA-approved gene therapy, CAR T-cell therapies are an important scientific advancement in this promising new area of medicine and provide treatment options for some patients who had nowhere else to turn.”

Echoing Verma’s support, acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, MD, an oncologist, said, “We remain committed to supporting the efficient development of safe and effective CAR T-cell therapies, and we will also continue to carefully assess the benefits and risks when considering whether to approve new CAR T-cell products.”

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