September 26, 2007 — US Oncology expressed "deep concern" over a letter recently released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to a press release issued on its website, 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.
The letter, addressed to the American Society of Hematology, US Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, outlined limitations on coverage of erythropoietin stimulating agents for 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 are more cumbersome and carry various health risks, and could measurably reduce the nation's blood supply due to this policy, according to recent estimates.
According to US Oncology, under the new policy, Medicare beneficiaries risk dropping to hemoglobin levels oncologists regard as inappropriately low levels, and as a result, will risk being forced to undergo blood transfusions.
For more information: www.usoncology.com