Cancer clinical trials are an important option for many cancer patients and they are the only strategy we have to get new treatments to the public. And in the new arena of personalized medicine we have witnessed targeted treatments like Gleevec and Herceptin make marked improvements in cancer survivorship. Yet, low patient enrollment in clinical trials continues to be cited as one of the factors that lengthens the time of the trial and dramatically increases the overall cost.
The LAF believes that cancer patients should have all the options open to them when determining what treatment strategy is best. However, despite the fact that the sponsors of most trials will cover the cost of the new drug, many insurance companies will deny coverage of routine medical costs for the care of the patient on the trial. Routine patient care costs are the usual costs of care, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, clinical laboratory tests, x-rays, etc., that you would receive whether or not you were participating in a clinical trial. This denial effectively denies the clinical trial to many patients.
There is national legislation, like the Access to Cancer Clinical Trials Act, attempting to address this problem, but many states have decided not to wait for the federal government to enact this into law and have passed their own laws.
This month the National Cancer Institute launched an interactive map to help inform Americans on which states currently have laws in place and what those laws actually enforce. The website can be found at www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/ctlaws-home