A state panel wants doctors to get prior authorization before prescribing certain chemotherapy drugs to Medicaid patients.

Advocates say that this will create dangerous delays in getting low-income cancer patients appropriate treatment.  The state insists that doctors will get prescribing authorization rapidly.

A governor-appointed Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee advises the Department of Social Services on what medicines should be on the Medicaid preferred drug list. These drugs require no prior authorization and often are lower cost due to negotiated rebate agreements with the manufacturer. The committee voted earlier this month on the status of 13 oral oncology drugs, accepting the recommendations of a consultant, Provider Synergies, to put only seven of those drugs on the preferred list. One drug to make the list, Iressa, is not available in the United States.

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