Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon Signs Oral Chemo Bill

By Matt Lupoli | mlupoli@kolr10.com

Published 03/19 2014 10:27PM

Updated 03/19 2014 10:41PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Doctors in Springfield say a bipartisan bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jay Nixon will help patients in treatment for cancer.

Missouri joins 27 other states with legislation similar to Senate Bill 668, which imposes an out-pocket-limit of $75 for a 30-day oral chemotherapy.

"Most of them prefer oral medications if they can afford it."

Mercy Hospital Oncologist Dr. Mohan Tummala said most of his patients find oral chemotherapy easier to manage, but that the cost kept many of them from using it. 

"They have a different side effect profile which is more tolerable compared the existing medications," Tummala said.

Researchers and local doctors alike said oral chemo drugs are more efficient and forward-looking than intravenous treatment.

"They're more effective," Tummala said. "We had patients where they had a huge lymph node that reduced in size within a couple of weeks. You never used to see those kind of results with IV medications," Tummala said. 

That's why supporters said the bipartisan bill got the governor's signature.

"No Missourian battling cancer should have to break the bank in order to get the medicine they need," Nixon said in a prepared statement. 

"About 34,000 Missourians are diagnosed with cancer each year," American Cancer Society of Springfield's Director of Mission Delivery, Brooke Evans Street, said.

Evans said the new law will make oral treatment available to thousands of cancer patients and save them thousands of dollars every month. In some cases, it will change their lives, since many won't need frequent hospital visits for IV treatment.

"My mother had cancer back in 2000 and oral chemotherapy wasn't even brought up, it wasn't an option. So we had to travel back and forth for treatment all the time,"  Evans Street said. "I'm really excited for families and caregivers and what this means for them and their cancer journey."

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