Federal Officials May Decide To Cover Self-Injected Drugs Under Medicare
Federal officials may revise a rule to expand Medicare prescription drug coverage to include certain self-injected treatments, the Chicago Tribune reports. Medicare officials did not comment on when they may move to revise the rule but said that they would likely delay the decision until Congress approves a prescription drug benefit for the program. Under the current rule, Medicare covers only a small number of outpatient treatments administered in a physician's office, such as chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. However, pharmaceutical companies maintain that Medicare also should cover self-injected treatments, which have become a "growing and important class of drugs," the Tribune reports. Ruben King-Shaw, deputy administrator for CMS, said, "A number of new and powerful biotech agents are self-injectable. There's a great opportunity to increase outcomes for patients." According to a Medicare spokesperson, Medicare coverage for self-injected treatments would require congressional approval. Medicare coverage for self-injected treatments would provide a business boost for pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott Laboratories and Amgen, the Tribune reports. Medicare does not cover those companies' self-administered rheumatoid arthritis treatments, Humira and Enbrel, but does cover Remicade, a rival medication manufactured by Johnson & Johnson that is not self-injected (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 2/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.