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April 25, 2013

Bill addresses drug cost disparity

NORMAN —  Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation to address pricing disparities between orally and intravenously-administered cancer medications. Sen. Greg Treat, author of Senate Bill 765, said because of insurance classifications, oral cancer medications may be far more costly for patients than intravenous treatments, even when the same medicines are used.

Treat said his legislation will establish parity in pricing for medications that can potentially save lives. 

“It simply isn’t right that obscure classifications should result in drastically different price tags being attached to identical cancer medications,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. ”This legislation restores fairness to the process. The bill can also provide an important measure of hope for people who are fighting cancer and are balancing significant financial demands as a result. I’m very grateful for the governor’s support of the measure, and I’m pleased to see it signed into law.” 

Treat noted that oral medications in many cases fall under prescription drug coverage in insurance plans. Intravenous medicines, however, may fall under a different classification and are often included under medical coverage. As a result, orally administered medicines may be vastly more expensive, despite the fact they may be easily administered in the home rather than a hospital or medical facility.

Rep. David Derby, House author of SB 765, praised the governor’s signing of the proposal.

“This is a good bill that will bring us into line with what 20-plus states are doing around the country right now,” said Derby, R-Owasso. “It allows individuals with insurance the ability to have access to FDA-approved chemotherapy that their physician recommended, regardless of how the chemotherapy is administered.”

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