US Oncology, Cancer Community Partners Host National Discussion on Proper Use and Support of Oral Chemotherapy in Cancer Care

Jan 21, 2010, 13:02 ET from US Oncology

Growing Use of Oral Chemotherapeutics Brings Clinical Benefits, Raises Questions in Prescribing, Adherence, Accessibility and Long Term Follow-Up Care According to Panel

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- US Oncology, Inc. partnered with the Association of Community Cancer Centers, Association of Oncology Social Work, American Society for Clinical Oncology, Community Oncology Alliance, Oncology Nursing Society and the National Patient Advocate Foundation in hosting a panel discussion on Capitol Hill today to examine the benefits of oral chemotherapy in cancer care, as well as challenges in its prescribing, accessibility and adherence in the current health care system.

"US Oncology recognizes the benefits of oral chemotherapy treatments and supports their use in that many patients have benefited from their convenience; ease of administration; and in some cases, lessened side effects when compared to traditional chemotherapy," said Leonard Kalman, M.D., Chairman of US Oncology's Public Policy Steering Committee. "As more patients request this therapy option, it is critical that patients and their physicians be fully informed and supported when it comes to effective prescribing, access to care and dosing adherence. We applaud our partners in the oncology community for coming together to address this issue."

The panel discussion, entitled "Oral Agents in Cancer: Their Impact on the Treatment of Patients and Providers," featured perspectives from practicing medical oncologists, oncology nurses, oncology social workers and a chemotherapy patient who was unable to access her prescribed oral chemotherapy medication following an insurance coverage denial. As the panelists explained, all healthcare stakeholders must work together to ensure that these life-saving treatments are properly prescribed and administered, effectively covered and financially obtainable for patients as the oral chemotherapeutics market grows.

US Oncology's OncologyRx Care Advantage(TM) national oral oncology specialty pharmacy service provides this type of financial, administrative and clinical support to cancer patients in need. By working directly with various charitable foundations, the program has provided more than $15 million in drug co-pay assistance to cancer patients since its inception in August 2006. OncologyRx Care Advantage also provides home delivery of prescribed oral cancer therapies, utilizes oncology certified nurses to proactively monitor patient compliance and help manage side effects, and gives patients 24-hour access to oncology certified pharmacists to answer their medication and dosing questions.

With intravenous chemotherapy, cancer care providers are able to monitor treatment on site and ensure that patients properly follow to their dosing amount and schedule. When patients take their own oral chemotherapy treatments at home, other factors may come into play – such as forgotten doses, omitted doses, emotional factors and other priorities – and adequate patient education and follow-up are critical to make certain patients receive the full treatment they need. Panelists noted that widespread success in oral chemotherapy treatment will call for improved patient access to treatments; a new level of integration in care among physicians, pharmacists and other clinicians involved with the patient's care; and a new infrastructure in care for prescribing, education and support.

"As more cancer patients are likely to look to oral chemotherapy as a more convenient and less invasive treatment option, we need to ensure that systematically, we are ready to meet their needs and providers' needs in terms of ready access to treatment; comprehensive information; and full administrative, clinical and social support throughout the course of treatment," added Dr. Kalman. "We look to the steps we have taken with OncologyRx Care Advantage as a model for this type of support, and we hope the broader healthcare community and policymakers will join us in exploring similar strategies to advance treatment success more broadly in this important area of care."

About US Oncology

US Oncology, Inc., headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas, works closely with physicians, payers, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers to identify and deliver innovative services that enhance patient access to advanced cancer care. US Oncology supports one of the nation's foremost cancer treatment and research networks, accelerating the availability and use of evidence-based medicine and shared best practices.

US Oncology uses its expertise to support every aspect of the cancer care delivery system -- from drug development to distribution and outcomes measurement -- enabling the company to help increase the efficiency and safety of cancer care. According to the company's last quarterly earnings report, US Oncology is affiliated with 1,310 physicians operating in 493 locations, including 98 radiation oncology facilities in 39 states. For more information, visit the company's Web site,

SOURCE US Oncology