CMS Asked To Lift Restrictions On Use Of Anemia Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture

Anemia Drugs

The American Society of Clinical Oncology on Thursday submitted a written request that CMS lift restrictions on the use of anemia drugs in cancer patients, saying the rules interfere with patient treatment, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 8/31).


CMS last month announced that it will limit Medicare coverage for use of anemia medications -- Aranesp, manufactured by Amgen, and Procrit, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson-- in cancer patients. Under the rules, Medicare will cover themedications, synthetic forms of the protein erythropoietin, to treatanemia caused by chemotherapy but not anemia caused by cancer. Medicarewill cover the anemia medications in cancer patients whose hemoglobinlevels decrease to less than 10 grams per deciliter of blood.

Thedecision also will allow local Medicare contractors to determinewhether to cover the anemia medications for use in patients withmyelodysplastic syndrome, a condition that can lead to leukemia (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 7/31). The regulations require physicians to use anemia medications at lower doses than are approved by FDA.

Accordingto an Aug. 3 letter to CMS from Joseph Bailes, chair of ASCO'sgovernment relations council, the rules could limit "physicians'ability to provide the care they judge most appropriate for theirpatients." The American Society of Hematology plans to join the effort (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 8/31).

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