ASCO Urges White House to Prioritize Cancer Drug Shortages and Research in State of the Union

March 7, 2024

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is urging President Biden to keep cancer care and research among his top national priorities on the eve of his State of the Union Address.

Over the past year, the cancer community has encountered myriad challenges, many of which can be attributed to drug shortages. A cancer diagnosis is already a difficult experience for individuals and their loved ones, and concerns about medication availability only exacerbate this. Furthermore, such shortages leave cancer care providers with impossible choices regarding the allocation of life-saving oncology drugs, highlighting the pressing need for resolution.

“The shortage of critical cancer drugs in this country is a crisis," said Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, Chair of the Board, Association for Clinical Oncology. "Cancer patients and their families deserve to know that they will get the care they need without delay, and for as long as they need it. ASCO continues to stand ready to collaborate with the administration, Congress and other stakeholders to advance comprehensive solutions that ensure individuals with cancer receive the lifesaving and life-prolonging treatments they require.”

In addition to addressing the cancer drug shortage, ASCO is also calling for the Administration to continue its commitment to advancing biomedical research. In the last 50 years, research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has played a role in every major cancer advancement. To continue such progress against cancer our government agencies need robust funding, so we’re also urging Congress to affirm its commitment to cancer research as it completes work on Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 and begins work on 2025 appropriations bills. Such support is integral for the goals of the NCI’s National Cancer Plan to achieve the Cancer Moonshot goal of reducing the cancer death rate by half over the next 25 years, and end cancer as we know it.

"This Administration's dedication to science has significantly accelerated the pace and advancements in cancer research," Dr. Vokes said. " We need consistent and continued investment to ensure research can meet its full potential. We cannot risk a damaging stop-start approach to funding as it could result in missed discoveries and discourage young researchers from staying in the field."

Finally, progress against cancer could also be blunted if patients do not have meaningful insurance coverage or face other barriers to accessing care. Medicaid and Medicare are essential components to providing health care to millions of Americans. ASCO continues to advocate for Medicaid expansion, reducing prior authorization delays, and ensuring appropriate Medicare reimbursement for accessible, high-quality cancer care.

"Addressing the drug shortage crisis, maintaining robust cancer research funding, and enhancing equitable access to care are paramount concerns for which we continue to advocate. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with the Administration and Congress to enact policies essential for saving more lives from cancer,” Dr. Vokes said.

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