Higher profile coverage of Medicare radioimmunotherapy mismanagement

We've been speaking about this issue on behalf of our lymphoma colleagues since late August.

But yesterday's New York Times (Alex Berenson) and Wall Street Journal's Health Blog (Jacob Goldstein) brought greater awareness to the issue of Medicare's proposal to cut reimbursement for "smart-bomb" radioimmunotherapies for lymphomas. So far, it appears that Medicare will move forward with plans to cut reimbursements for two RIT drugs, Bexxar® and Zevalin®, to less than their acquisition costs to hospitals.

This issue had already mobilized Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to write a piercing screed against Medicare over this issue and momentum has been growing to challenge this misguided proposal by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

Besides denying lymphoma patients of two drugs with tremendous, life-prolonging activity, there are legitimate concerns that the Medicare proposal will cause the pharmaceutical industry to think twice before investing R&D dollars in lymphoma therapies.

The NYT quoted Dr Mark Kaminski, now of the University of Michigan, who helped discover Bexxar 20 years ago:

"If you can't get two products that basically hit home runs into the marketplace, there's very little incentive for further development," Dr. Kaminski said.

For previous discussion of this issue, see our posts:

Misguided Medicare Money Mayhem

CMS tells lymphoma patients to go to hell

"How Washington is Nixing a Cancer Cure..."

Last shot for Medicare coverage of radioimmunotherapy (RIT)

and that of our ScienceBlogs colleague, Orac:

Medicare to lymphoma patients: Go screw yourselves

and go to the Patients Against Lymphoma site and their blog, LYMPHOMAtion.org, to learn what can still be done to correct this travesty.

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Karl Schwartz is a tireless lymphoma patient advocate who is co-founder and president of Patients Against Lymphoma. Karl also oversees their excellent website, Lymphomation.org. A missive from Karl came in today detailing how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to cut…
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Beginning Jan. 1, Medicare will reimburse only $16,000 of the $30,000 total cost for hospitals to acquire and administer each treatment of radioimmunotherapy drugs. Currently, only two drugs -- Bexxar and Zevalin -- fall under this class of therapy. What on earth is going on here? Why would our…

Thank you for your continued support on this issue!!

I feel especially bad as I was working in the clinical trials office when the NDA for Bexxar was filed. I have great respect for Dr. Kaminski and his team. How many useless woo meds are being paid for, while real medical 'magic bullets' are ignored?