A California law enacted in 2001 appears to have removed a major barrier to participation
in clinical trials by cancer patients, according to research presented at the recent annual meeting of
the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The law requires private and government health insurance plans
to cover routine costs associated with cancer clinical trials.
UC Davis researchers first looked at barriers to clinical trial participation in 2000, a year before
the California legislature passed SB 37. In that initial study, 8 percent of the cancer patients who were
eligible for a clinical trial declined to participate, citing health-insurance limitations as the reason.
In the new study, conducted a year after SB 37 took effect, no cancer patient declined to participate
in a clinical trial because of insurance limitations.
Advances in cancer treatment depend on clinical trials, carefully controlled scientific studies of new
therapies. Yet less than 3 percent of adult cancer patients nationwide enroll in these trials each year.
About 14 percent of new cancer patients seen at the UC Davis Cancer Center participate in clinical trials.