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Bringing down the cost of oral chemotherapy

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network applauds the work of the Maryland General Assembly in passing the Kathleen Mathias Oral Chemotherapy Act of 2012. The provisions of the bill went into effect Oct. 1, resulting in increased quality of life for many cancer patients.

In addition to bringing the cost of oral chemotherapy into line with that of intravenous chemotherapy, patients who opt for oral chemotherapy will be able to save the time and travel costs associated with trips to a treatment center, which can go on for months for intravenous chemotherapy.

It was fitting that the oral chemotherapy parity law began on the first day Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society asked state Sen. James Mathias if the bill could be named in honor of his wife, Kathleen, who died of breast cancer last year. He looked toward heaven and responded: "We would be honored."

Kathy was a long-time American Cancer Society volunteer who was all about hope. That's why this bill is so appropriately named.

Fifteen states, including Maryland, have passed oral chemotherapy parity legislation. The District of Columbia passed a similar measure in 2009.

Oral chemotherapy is the result of many years of research. Each cancer is different and as unique as the patient. Over the course of cancer treatment, a patient may experience setbacks, respond negatively to a treatment regimen or be unable to tolerate certain treatments.

Thanks to the Kathleen Mathias Chemotherapy Act, oncologists can now consider oral chemotherapy from a continuum of cancer treatments without concerning themselves about any increased cost to the patient.

Bonita Pennino

The writer is Maryland government relations director for the American Cancer Society.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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