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Cancer Doctors Across America 'Stunned' at Government's Ruling Restricting Anemia Management Protocols for Cancer Patients, Call Ruling 'Interference' in Practice of Medicine
Date:9/25/2007

Limited Coverage Under Medicare Creates Two-Tiered System of Cancer Care in America; Cancer Patients on Medicare Face Avoidable Blood Transfusions

HOUSTON, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- US Oncology, the nation's leading oncology network representing over 1,100 oncologists across the country, today expressed "deep concern" over a letter released yesterday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) -- the agency which manages the nation's Medicare program. US Oncology believes that this new government policy outlined in the letter severely interferes with cancer doctors' treatment protocols, creates a two-tiered system of cancer care in America, and potentially forces many cancer patients already undergoing chemotherapy treatment to undergo avoidable blood transfusions.

"CMS has reversed over 15 years of clinical experience in the treatment of Medicare patients with ESAs without offering appropriate scientific evidence to support such a drastic change" said Dan Cohen, US Oncology Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy. "This action ignores the substantial scientific evidence submitted during the course of the CMS review, and dramatically alters the standard of care for Medicare cancer patients"

ESAs are regarded as an integral drug as part of treatment protocols in cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. ESAs, which are an injectable biologic, increase oxygen-carrying blood in patients who are anemia deficient due to chemotherapy treatments by naturally stimulating the body to produce more red blood cells. The alternative to ESAs are blood transfusions, which more cumbersome and carry various health risks, and could measurably reduce the nation's blood supply due to this policy, according to recent estimates.

Further highlighting the issue, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently found ESAs safe and effective for hemoglobin levels up to 12 grams/dcl, while CMS will now o
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SOURCE US Oncology
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