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July 18, 2019

Beyond Parity and Toward Socially Owned Anticancer Drug Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Oregon Health & Science University–Portland State University School of Public Health, Portland
  • 2Center for Hematologic Malignancies, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
JAMA Oncol. 2019;5(9):1260-1261. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.2291

In response to rising out-of-pocket costs, advocacy groups have been pushing for insurance regulations to limit the cost of oral anticancer medications (OAMs). These OAM parity laws attempt to reduce the financial toxicity of safe and effective yet expensive medications. While their spread from Oregon in 2008 to a total of 43 states in 2018 has been an advocacy success, efficacy has been limited. Parity laws have been unable to contain costs, and pill rationing, delayed refill, and prescription abandonment remain significant barriers to equitable treatment.1-3 One problem is parity laws lack mechanisms to contain rising drug prices and have no effect on infusions. Manufacturers are unaffected and insurers can merely raise premiums on members to compensate. People without insurance receive no benefit from parity. Although the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Medicare for all, and other insurance reforms dominate the health policy debate, it is time to refocus on the price of all anticancer drugs, including OAMs.

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