Monday, 6 August 2007

Amgen challenges new Medicare policy for anemia drugs for cancer

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Last Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services relaxed some of the limits that it had proposed in May for the use of anemia drugs in cancer patients, in the face of an outcry from cancer patients and their physicians.

However, CMS said it is still going to deny payment for drugs like Aranesp and Epogen from Amgen and Procrit from Johnson & Johnson if a patient's hemoglobin level is greater than 10 grams per deciliter. Physicians generally aim for a hemoglobin level of 10 to 12 g/deciliter in their cancer patients. Normal range is 12 to 18 g/deciliter.

Amgen is challenging this new limit, saying that such a limit will increase the need for blood transfusions. The company also noted such limits contradict the FDA's approved labeling for the drugs.
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