Policy

Ohio House passes bill to expand coverage for off-label drugs

A bill that would expand insurance coverage for off-label drug usage has unanimously passed a vote in the Ohio House of Representatives. The House voted 97-0 in favor of House Bill 384, which would bring Ohio law up to federal standards regarding when insurers would be required to cover the use of off-label drugs, according […]

A bill that would expand insurance coverage for off-label drug usage has unanimously passed a vote in the Ohio House of Representatives.

The House voted 97-0 in favor of House Bill 384, which would bring Ohio law up to federal standards regarding when insurers would be required to cover the use of off-label drugs, according to its sponsor, Linda Bolon, D-Columbiana. Bolon spoke with MedCity News in December shortly after the bill was introduced.

Off-label refers to using a drug to treat a condition other than for what the drug has received government approval–a common practice in medicine.

The bill has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee, according to a Senate spokeswoman.

Bolon introduced the bill primarily to make it easier for patients to use off-label drugs in treating types of cancer. For example, some drugs that have been approved to treat breast cancer have proven effective in treating colon cancer, she said.

In recent years, the federal government has expanded its compendia, or guides, for which off-label drug use is authorized. The bill’s unanimous passage in the House illustrate its noncontroversial nature. The Ohio Association of Health Plans, a trade group representing the state’s insurers, typically opposes government involvement in the industry–as nearly every industry does. But not in this case, according to Kelly McGivern, the group’s president.

“This is a technical bill that just updates Ohio law with changes to the compendia issued by [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services],” she said.  “We are not opposed to the change.”