Farrington Speaks at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Hearing on CMS
THOMAS A. FARRINGTON
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
November 17, 2010
There are two distinct worlds of prostate cancer in our country, one for Blacks and one for other men. In Black America, men are dying from this disease at an unacceptable rate 2.5 times higher than other men. This devastating health crisis is the reality in my world, one where I am a ten year survivor and where I lost my father, both grandfathers and my only brother-in-law to this deadly disease. Our world desperately needs priority attention and new solutions.
In 2005 PHEN hosted the first ever ?African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit? to review new developments and map strategies to eliminate the disparity. Presentations on the potential impact of immunotherapy treatments were included in each of our six annual summits. We have been waiting with hope and prayer that this new class of treatment might one day bring relief.
This promise has been realized in Provenge, the first immunotherapy treatment approved by the Federal Drug Administration for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The data reviewed by the FDA for the approval of Provenge--and the data you saw today--show that the survival benefit for Black men is at least three times greater than that for other men; the type of breakthrough that my world prays for and needs.
I plead on behalf of all men, and especially for Black America, for CMS to seize this unprecedented moment of opportunity. Provenge offers a much needed treatment, and we must endorse it as a treatment that addresses one of the most glaring health disparities in our country. Not to do so would constitute negligence and this promising new class of treatment will be available only to those who can afford to pay out of pocket. This would make Provenge mostly inaccessible to the men that are suffering most and be viewed as inhumane in my world.
CMS, provide national coverage for Provenge and make this new treatment widely available! Men in this country and especially in my world should not be denied this prostate cancer treatment breakthrough.