Oncologists criticize CMS for upholding decision on ESA reimbursements

September 27, 2007

Medicare keeping limits on anemia drugs

Doctor groups have criticized CMS for refusing to reverse a decision that cuts the reimbursement rates of two popular anemia drugs. In a letter sent this week to physicians and cancer specialists, CMS said it would not back down from its late July decision to cut reimbursements for Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa, Amgen) and Procrit (epoetin alfa, Ortho Biotech). The drugs, often referred to as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), are given to cancer patients to boost hemoglobin levels and combat anemia. CMS ruled in July that it would provide reimbursements only to patients whose hemoglobin levels fall below 10gm/dl.