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Georgia House Bill 85 to revolutionize cancer treatment

3/21/2023, Henry County Times

After a final vote by the Senate, the Georgia General Assembly today passed a bill (HB 85) that is expected to provide more access to biomarker testing, which is testing that can help physicians to identify the most effective treatment for a patient’s disease.

Revolutionizing cancer treatment over the last few decades, biomarker testing can provide access to targeted treatment by tailoring care to a person’s individual disease, improving quality of life and survivorship. Patients with certain lung cancer types who received biomarker testing and targeted therapy as a result saw a 31% reduction in risk of death.

“With today’s vote, Senators have sent a clear message: every patient, every physician and every affected family deserves access to this life-enhancing tool,” noted Julie Vojtech, Georgia Government Relations Director at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “The General Assembly recognizes the importance of those scientific advancements and that true progress in Georgians’ health lies in ensuring more people across our great state have access to such innovations.”

Despite its benefits and increasingly important role in cancer care, access to biomarker testing has not kept pace with the rate of innovation and advancements in treatment. One significant barrier for patients is lack of health insurance coverage for appropriate testing.

Close to 60% of the oncology drugs launched in the past five years require or recommend biomarker testing prior to use; unfortunately, too many Georgians have been unable to access it.

“We applaud the Georgia General Assembly for making such a reality possible for those touched by cancer and living with other chronic and autoimmune diseases. It’s our hope Gov. Kemp will take final action to ensure it becomes law and brings the promise of precision medicine to all Georgians,” added Vojtech.

ACS CAN led a coalition of 50 patient and provider advocacy groups to support the bill through the legislative process. The bill heads to Gov. Kemp’s desk next for signing.

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Georgia CORE is a statewide nonprofit that leverages partnerships and innovation to attract more clinical trials, increase research, and promote education and early detection to improve cancer care for Georgians in rural, urban, and suburban communities across the state.