Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New Medicare and Medicaid Rules for Anemia Drugs

Article in the Wall Street Journal -- A Victory for Anemia Patients?  Advocates Beat Back Effort To Limit Use of Popular Drugs That May Carry Heart Risks, by Marilyn Chase.  Here's an excerpt:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- amid pressure from patient advocacy groups, medical societies and legislators -- released new rules on its coverage of anemia drugs that are significantly less stringent than what the agency had originally planned.

The proposed changes, aimed at improving patient safety, had caused a public uproar for the past two months. More than 2,600 public comments were filed, many complaining that the proposals were Draconian and threatened to compromise patients' quality of life by withholding needed treatment.

The new guidelines apply mostly to people with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy that causes anemia -- a lack of red blood cells that ferry oxygen around the body. They also apply to myelodysplasia, a disorder of the bone marrow. Anemia can cause crushing fatigue, shortness of breath and cardiac arrhythmia.



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