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New law forces insurers to pay when patients try new cancer drugs

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Governor Matt Blunt signed legislation Friday that requires insurance companies to expand their coverage of patients who help test new cancer medication.

Most people who are treated for cancer are offered the chance to participate in clinical trials, and researchers usually pay for the drugs.

But many patients still opt out because their insurance will not cover treatment of illnesses suffered during the tests.

The new law requires insurance companies to cover patients who take part in the second phase of trials.

Dr. John DiPersio, deputy director of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, said the measure will give patients better access to the latest medical advances.

"If you cannot offer a patient with a life-threatening or life-ending illness the option of getting an effective therapy, that should not be considered standard-of- care or state-of-the-art treatment," DiPersio said.

Previously, Missouri law only required insurance companies to cover patients who participate in the final stages of a drug trial.


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