HARRISBURG – Patients who are diagnosed with cancer and participate in clinical research trials could have some of their expenses covered under new legislation advancing through the Pennsylvania General Assembly, according to Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks), author of the House proposal.
“So many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors who have been diagnosed with cancer are able to have much better outcomes because of the patients who have chosen to participate in clinical research trials,” Quinn said. “Because of these patients’ courage, individuals who have the same diagnosis in the future benefit from their shared experience.
“This sacrifice is priceless to future patients but can cause a financial hardship on the individuals undergoing the trials,” she continued. “However, the medical ethics involved in payments to patients can be a concern, so that’s why I’ve introduced legislation to create some clarity within state law to allow legitimate expenses to be reimbursed.”
Quinn’s House Bill 2521, which was amended into House Bill 126
, would establish a clear difference between what is considered an “inducement” – a payment for a patient to participate in a cancer clinical trial – and the reimbursement of expenses for participating in a clinical trial.
Quinn noted that most corporations, foundations and health care providers are cautious to lend support to possible clinical trial patients due to concerns that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or other federal regulators would view the payments made from those funds as prohibited inducements for patients to receive the health care services provided during clinical trials.
A national study in 2015 found that patient households making less than $50,000 annually were almost 30 percent less likely to participate in clinical trials. The costs of direct and indirect financial responsibilities, travel and/or child care can hinder the ability for someone to take part in a trial who may otherwise be a very good candidate. The Cancer Clinical Trials Resource Guide, published by the National Cancer Institute, notes that financial barriers often prevent individuals with cancer or at high risk of developing cancer from participating in encouraging clinical trials.
“As a society, we benefit from the research culminating from these clinical trials,” Quinn added. “If anything, we should be encouraging participation with this research, and not making it even more difficult for those already facing challenging health circumstances. I am hoping we can get this legislation over the goal line before the end of session this fall so that cancer patients, their families and others can have a brighter tomorrow.”
House Bill 126 is currently back in the House Rules Committee, where it could be poised for a concurrence vote in September.
Representative Marguerite Quinn
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton