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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010 Mar 17;102(6):376-90. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djq028. Epub 2010 Mar 2.

State payer mandates to cover care in US oncology trials: do science and ethics matter?

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  • 1Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Ave, Hun 106.3, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



In the United States, Medicare-eligible participants' costs for routine care and complications from cancer clinical trials are covered by Medicare, but other people depend on state insurance mandates to assure coverage.


State mandates were reviewed for requirements to assure trials' scientific and ethical soundness, whom they covered and omitted, scope, and coverage for participants' research-related injuries in addition to routine care costs.


Twenty-six states mandated coverage. Four states (15%) required scientific peer review for all studies. For 20 states (80%), an approved investigational new drug qualified as scientific review. In 10 states (38%), institutional review board (IRB) approval could replace scientific review. Twenty-four states (92%) permitted trials without academic medical connection. All states covered privately insured patients; seven (27%) included government and Medicaid patients. Fourteen states (54%) covered phase I to phase IV trials. Sixteen states (62%) covered treatment trials only; one (4%) covered prevention, detection, treatment, and palliation. Thirteen states (50%) covered research-related injuries. Only seven states (27%) required IRB approval. Three states (12%) required commensurate risks and benefits; 23 (88%) had no standard. Eight states (31%) required clinical equipoise with standard care; eight (31%) had no standard; and remaining states (46%) had unique standards. Two states (8%) addressed publication or registries.


Most states did not demand independent scientific review, IRB review, or basic ethical features of high-quality trials; provided partial coverage; omitted prevention, detection, and palliation research; and omitted mandated coverage for research-related injuries. Few required evaluation, independence in publication, or posting trial results. Further research on the impact of diverse state choices would improve policy making.

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