PNS Daily Newscast - February 21, 2020 

U.S. intelligence has told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected; and the Trump public charge rule takes effect Monday.

2020Talks - February 21, 2020 

Tomorrow are the Nevada caucuses, and Nevada Democrats are hoping for them to run far more smoothly than the ones in Iowa. Candidates battle for that top spot and voting continues.

Patients Demand Equality for Prescription Drug Coverage

October 29, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Tuesday's midterm elections outcome is seen as important as it relates to the fate of a bill that would increase the number of medications available to patients under the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Currently, Medicare does not cover prescriptions that do not have FDA approval for that particular use. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society says that denies treatments to some M-S patients that could improve their quality of life.

Dr. Michael Kaufman, a neurologist at the Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, says even insurance companies are inconsistent in their approval of off-label drugs, and he wants to see that rectified.

"The approval of drugs is partially dependent on label, and partially dependent upon the cost to the insurance company."

Medicare does cover off-label drug use for cancer patients. A bill that would clear the way for more off-label use under certain guidelines - the Part D Off-label Prescription Parity Act (HR 5732) - is sitting in a committee, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is watching it. Opponents express concern over the cost of such coverage and say alternative treatments are available.

However, Kaufman says, an expansion of coverage is important because most of these medications will never be tested for their off-label use. Many of their parent pharmaceutical companies are small and the market is restricted.

"It's unlikely that they will ever be tested with the type of precision that would be needed to apply for an FDA indication."

At this time, only one drug is approved by the FDA to treat specific symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC