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Conaway & Quijano Bill Requiring Insurance Carriers to Cover Test Gauging Potential for Severe Chemotherapy Side Effects Passes Committee

In an effort to help predict the potential for severe reactions to chemotherapy, Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Annette Quijano sponsor a bill giving patients the opportunity to be tested for a certain deficiency that causes an inability to break down chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer.

People who are genetically deficient in dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) – an enzyme which helps metabolize fluoropyrimidines such as those used in chemotherapy drugs – can experience severe and sometimes even lethal reactions to chemotherapy as a result.

Under the bill (A-986), physicians would be permitted to offer patients a test for DPD deficiency prior to undergoing chemotherapy, if they deem it medically necessary. If the test is requested, the measure requires health insurance plans to cover it.   

Upon the legislation being advanced by the Assembly Health Committee on Wednesday, Assembly sponsors Conaway (D-Burlington) and Quijano (D-Union) issued the following joint statement:

“Well over 50,000 New Jersey residents are diagnosed with cancer every year. Each time a diagnosis is made, doctors must work with their patients to determine the right treatment method that will not only eliminate their cancer, but ensure the best possible quality of life throughout the treatment’s duration.

“Testing for DPD deficiency prior to chemotherapy can help doctors understand a patient’s potential reaction to the drugs and make an informed decision about whether to proceed or seek alternative treatment methods. With such a simple test making all the difference in the road to recovery, it must be made widely available to all eligible patients.”

 The bill heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.