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Leading Oncologists from Across the Country Hold Emergency Meeting on New Government Reimbursement Policy for Medicare Patients with Cancer
Date:10/24/2007

Oncologists Point to Science, Quality Outcomes, Safety Concerns and Interference with Doctors' Expertise as Reasons to Revisit NCD

CHICAGO, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leading oncologists from across the country gathered in Chicago today to discuss concerns and reach consensus over the new National Coverage Decision (NCD) for the use of Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs) in cancer treatments for Medicare patients. The meeting, which brought together approximately 50 of the nation's leading oncologists, was chaired by Dr. Peter Ellis, Medical Director of the University of Pittsburgh's Medical Center (UPMC) Cancer Centers.

ESAs are used to boost patients' red blood cell counts when undergoing chemotherapy, which allows them to better cope with the treatment regimen. The NCD is putting restrictions on Medicare reimbursement for hemoglobin levels at 10g/dL. Since the new NCD guidelines were first introduced in late July by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), oncologists and patients from across the country have come forward expressing concern over what many regard as interference by the government on cancer doctors' medical decisions for their patients.

The oncologists created a statement today based on remarks from leading health policy experts and a satellite briefing from Washington, DC featuring physicians who had participated in meetings at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) where they discussed revisiting the NCD allowing doctors to administer ESAs before a patient's hemoglobin level drops below 10. Since Medicare will not reimburse at any amount above a hemoglobin level of 10, patients could be subjected to blood transfusions which many oncologists regard as unnecessary and expose the patient to added health risks.

The final statement, which is being sent to policymakers in Washington and widely distributed among their peers and patient groups across the country, reads as follows:
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SOURCE US Oncology
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