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General Assembly OKs Bill Covering Off-Label Drugs for Life-Saving Eforts

The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence.
The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence.
The Rhode Island State House is located at 82 Smith St. Providence.

STATE HOUSE — Last month, the Rhode Island General Assembly voted to approve bills (H7512/S2499) expanding health insurance coverage to include off-label use of prescription medications for the treatment of disabling or life-threatening chronic diseases, signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo June 23.

Filed at Kilmartin’s request, the legislation is sponsored by Representative K. Joseph Shekarchi (D- District 23, Warwick) and Senator William A. Walaska (D- District 30, Warwick).

This legislation bans health insurers from refusing to cover non-Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs used for the treatment of disabling, chronic, or life-threatening disease on the grounds the drug was not approved for the prescribed use by the FDA. The drug does, however, have to be recognized for treatment of a disabling, chronic, or life-threatening disease in one of the standard reference compendia or other medical literature.
“This legislation will go a long way to help patients suffering from life-threatening chronic diseases by ensuring they have access to the medication they need to live comfortably and pain free,” said AG Kilmartin.  “In Rhode Island, the use of off-label medication to treat cancer has been required of insurance companies since 1994. The passing of this important legislation not only highlights the dramatic medical advances made since 1994, but also makes them financially accessible for all Rhode Islanders. Obtaining FDA approval for medication is a lengthy and expensive process, and Rhode Islanders with chronic, disabling, or life-threatening illnesses should not have to refuse treatment because medical data is not updated.”
Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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