Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I know there are a number of bills in the legislature at the moment and despite what other organizations may be trying to promote, I'm breaking ranks with breast cancer in favor of something that affects ALL cancer patients.

The bill is not looking for any type of funding.  In some states, drug parity laws already exist.  What we need is a law in ALL states.  When I was on chemotherapy, all of my medications were infused.  I never saw a bill for the treatment.  There are, however, many treatments that are in pill form.  When a chemotherapeutic treatment is in the form of a pill, it falls under the prescription drug portion of most health insurance policies.  As such, a co-payment is required.  If the pill were smashed, liquified and injected, NO co-payment.  This is unfair and it really must be changed.

Many of us are on tamoxifen and many of us may still take an aromitase inhibitor.  While this is technically part of our treatment, I accept that this falls under the heading of maintenance.  When Harry Met Sally, anyone?  Meg Ryan was the worst kind.  High maintenance who thinks she is low maintenance as explained by Billy Crystal and if you never saw the movie, it's worth watching.  In my case, I am the best kind.  I am VERY high maintenance and for some reason, others believe I am low maintenance.  Perhaps it's because I maintain a low profile unless I'm blabbing about something here... at which point, it can get pretty raucous.  There is no low profile in blogging.

Maintenance, however.... is maintenance and I accept that my prescriptions are like insurance pills.  I owe a co-pay.  There are others who are taking tamoxifen or an aromitase inhibitor as treatment for metastatic disease.  This is not insurance. For those, the pills are a lifeline that will (hopefully) continue to work for a very long time.  Maintenance for me.....is treatment of active disease for others and when that's the case, it should not matter whether the treatment is an oral medication or an injectable.  It's all "chemotherapy."

Chemotherapy is defined as the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances.  Anything that falls under the realm of chemotherapy should be created equal in the eyes of how it's covered on an insurance policy.  It's logic, don't you think?  Except, it's NOT the case.  Indeed, any and all oral medications are subject to co-pays in many states.  Some of those co-pays can be quite costly and some of the drugs, if someone does not have prescription drug coverage, can be completely out of the question because yes, some of those pills are THAT expensive.

I am not going to vilify Big Pharma.  I'm not going to vilify the health insurance companies, either.  I'm simply requesting that we all throw our support behind a bill that was introduced for the THIRD time that would level the playing field.  If your best treatment is a pill, let's see that it's covered in the same fashion as those treatments that are infused or injected. Treatment is treatment is treatment.

What can you do?  Top left column.  Little box.  Click on the box and it will take you to a page where you can send a message directly to your representative.  We need to be heard.  We need to make sure our representatives know this is NOT acceptable and it's up to them to make sure the bill gets our of committee and brought to a vote.... and then, the same thing happens in the Senate.... and ultimately, it gets placed on the desk of the President to sign into law.

If we aren't willing to speak up, our silence makes each of us part of the problem.  Please click, fill in the information which will automatically locate your representative.  Make your voice heard.  We put these people in Washington to represent our interests.  This is a major disparity that can easily by closed.  It's up to each and every one of us to let our congressperson know that we expect they take action, that this is not okay, that the bill better not die in committee like it has twice in the past.

Please do it.  Please share.  Even if your state is one that already has Cancer Drug Parity, take action on behalf of those who live in states where this is not the case.  Let's make some noise.  Let's make something happen.  This is a nonsensical loophole that can be easily closed with a stroke of the pen.  It's up to us to insist that pen is put into the hand of the President.

Join me.


  1. I wrote about this just the other day. But yours is much more emphatic. http://carolinemfr.blogspot.com/2013/07/oral-parity-or-time-to-write-your.html

    1. Thanks for sharing the link, Caroline. I'm WAY behind on my blog reading. Way Way WAAAYYY....


  2. Dear AnneMarie, this post could not have come at a better time for me. I have been on an enrolled trial for almost 9 months, it was great, it was working, and it was at no cost to me, being a trial. It's time to move on, the vaccination is not working anymore, this last scan showed lots of progression in my bones.
    We will now start taking Exemestave (Aromitase Inhibitor) and Everolimus (Targeted Drug) together. FDA approved drugs. Both Oral Drugs.
    They are showing good results with these drugs working together.
    The problem with the drug Everolimus is cost, they charge my insurance company, get this, $10,000.00 per month. I cannot even get this drug at either my local pharmacy or the oncology pharmacy. I have to mail order for this drug and in doing so, I have to purchase 3 month worth of drug, and or course at the highest Tier of my prescription coverage co-pay.
    All other drugs I have been taking have been infused, no co-pay, but now this is oral, co-pay.
    I spent all morning between the doctors office and pharmacy yesterday, and all money spent yesterday was co-pays, $180.00 worth.
    I will click on that tab to the Texas elected official.
    Cancer has and will continue to break my wallet. The biggest problem with this is I will pay for this cancer right up to the point they lay me in the ground, and have to pay for that also.
    Thanks for really hitting home today.
    Your Texas Friend,

    1. Christine...

      Thank YOU for punctuating the point of this post. Mostly, though, I'm so sorry to read that the trial medication is no longer working.

      I'm sending all sorts of love and good vibes to you...


  3. Ye gods.

    I clicked the button, and I wrote my personalized letter, but I had a dickens of a time creating an account. I tried to use my Google login, and it just kept bouncing me back to the login page. I finally had to create a separate account, as if I don't have too many already.

    But it's done. I hope it passes, but it doesn't look good.

  4. And trying to share it on my Facebook wall was a real trip. Sheesh.

    1. Rhonda,

      There are definitely better sites for tracking legislation and opening up forms directly to your representative. The problem? I couldn't locate this bill on ANY OF THEM.... ARGG!

      And Thanks!!

  5. dear Annemarie

    both hugh and I often heard of the hardships visited on those patients who travelled hundreds of miles for infusions, and sometimes were not able to receive the latest, most effective treatments for multiple myeloma because they were only available in pill form. we were so lucky that our insurance paid for all hugh's oral chemo, but thinking of others who weren't as fortunate, and who took the time to bring this issue to light in their MM blogs were some of the soldiering heroes to breathe life and action that resulted in this bill. thank you for your in-depth and informative post -happily, I was able to use the POP VOX site without any trouble, but I think it was because I just used my own name and not my google account?

    with much love and gratitude, XOXOXOXO


  6. I used my Facebook account and didn't have any trouble with POP VOX. Thank you for your advocacy, Annemarie. I don't have the energy to keep up myself right now and it's comforting to know that there are others who are doing it and I can just climb aboard.


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