Delaware Public Media

Bill would help cancer patients access drugs they need

Apr 2, 2017

A new bill in the General Assembly would make it easier for people with stage 4 cancer to access stronger, more costly treatments. 




Insurance companies require Delaware cancer patients to try and fail cheaper, less intrusive treatments before they can move up to stronger, more costly medication. 



But under this bill, patients with stage 4 metastatic (quickly spreading) cancer can jump directly to whichever drug their doctor believes is more effective, without having to go through the “try and fail process.”


“You should not have to suffer while you try to find the right medicine when the doctors know what the right medicine in the first place,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach), who recently introduced the bill along with House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear).


Schwartzkopf had surgery for spindle cell desmoplastic melanoma in January 2012. His cancer was caught very early and he did not have to go through chemotherapy or radiation. But he said he understands the hardships people face between cancer, treatment that may make them feel sick, and the battle with insurance companies to get on a treatment that’s right for them.


“They’re in stage 4 and for the most part, it’s a last-ditch effort,” Schwartzkopf said. “Why do you prolong that?”


The bill’s first stop is the House Economic Development, Banking, Insurance and Commerce committee. 


Connecticut and Maryland lawmakers are discussing similar measures.