Clinical trials can represent a powerful and compelling care option for cancer patients. TrialSite News has covered many cases where trials have saved a person’s life so they can spend more years with their loved ones. Cancer patients can often benefit from clinical trials, but they don’t participate simply because they cannot afford to—factoring in travel expenses, parking costs, etc. all add up. The State of Illinois has passed a new law reimbursing patients for clinical trial expenses.
The new law, aimed at increasing minority participation in clinical trials for cancer patients (which have very low participation rates, yet high cancer rates) can genuinely help working-class to middle-class cancer patients. Those making 50,000 or less are 30% less likely to even enroll in a study.
Lazarex Cancer Foundation noted in a recent press release that “Clinical trials offer advanced treatments before the general public can access them. All new treatments must have completed a clinical trial before becoming FDA approved, and they must have patients enrolled to be successful. However, an estimated 97% of cancer patients don’t enroll because clinical trial sites are often far from home, making travel for patients both difficult and financially burdensome.”
Apparently, similar laws are now being considered in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Florida, and New Mexico and are already effective in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This will be inevitable as a confluence of market and social forces come together, driving more awareness and funding to get people involved in clinical research. The biopharma and academic sponsors need patients in studies; not enough cancer patients take advantage of potentially life-saving studies and there are a growing number of service and technology providers supporting the facilitation of matching patients with a clinical trial.
Last April, US lawmakers introduced a new legislation called the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act which introduces access to government-funded cancer clinical trials. This bill will examine how such access would impact traditionally underrepresented groups.