Medicare limits cancer drug payments

Medicare has run into controversy over its plans to limit payments for a class of cancer drugs used to treat lymphoma patients. The drugs, Bexxar and Zevalin, are given to non-Hodgkins lymphoma patients who haven't responded well to other therapies. Data suggests that the drugs can put the disease into remission, at least temporarily, for many patients who take them. However, they're extremely expensive.

Medicare has been paying for Bexxar and Zevalin treatments based on the average price reported by drug companies, plus a 6 percent fee for handling costs. However, it plans to begin paying a flat $16,000 or so for Bexxar and Zevalin as of January first, despite drugmaker protests that the two are priced at more like $30,000 per treatment. Now, observers say that physicians and hospitals may stop giving the treatment, which is administered by injection in an outpatient setting.

To find out more about the dispute:
- read this article from The New York Times

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