Medicare approves new drug reimbursement

If you haven't gotten the word yet, HCFA began reimbursing Medicare patients as of Jan. 1 for all oral antiemetics used to prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting when used with any oral or intravenous chemotherapies. Previously, Medicare only reimbursed for oral antiemetics when used with certain oral chemotherapies. The old reimbursement rules meant many Medicare patients undergoing chemotherapy did not receive oral antiemetics.

"Now more patients will have access to oral antiemetics that are cost-effective, require less administration time for health care providers, and are more convenient for patients," says Myron Goldsmith, MD, executive director of development, City of Hope Oncology Network in California. Nausea and vomiting are the most common and frequently reported side effects of chemotherapy. Oral antiemetics are one of the few oral medications reimbursed by Medicare in a hospital outpatient setting or physician's office - a significant fact because most cancer patients currently receive chemotherapy treatments in an outpatient setting.