The Ritz Herald
Founder of Lazarex Cancer Foundation Dana Dornsife speaks at UChicago Medicine press conference on Feb 26, 2020. © Laura Evans

Illinois Lawmakers Give Cancer Patients Equal Access to Clinical Trials and Improve Minority Participation


Major victory for cancer patients in Illinois

Published on February 26, 2020

Illinois Lawmakers announce a new law that will help thousands of cancer patients in the state. SB1711, the Clinical Trial Participation Act gives all Illinois cancer patients new hope by providing access to potentially life-saving breakthrough medical advancements in clinical trials.

The legislation, approved unanimously, aims to improve participation and retention in cancer clinical trials, especially among underserved populations. The law clarifies that reimbursing patients for the out of pocket expenses necessary to travel to a clinical trial site is not to be considered inducement or coercion.

A national study found that patient households making less than $50,000 annually were almost 30 percent less likely to participate in clinical trials. This disparity threatens one of the most basic ethical foundations of clinical research: the requirements that the benefits of research be made available equitably among all eligible individuals.

Clinical trials offer advanced treatments before the general public can access them. All new treatments must complete a clinical trial before becoming FDA approved, and they must have patients enrolled to be successful. However, an estimated 97 percent of cancer patients don’t enroll because clinical trial sites are often far from home, making travel for patients both difficult and financially burdensome.

Similar legislation is currently being considered in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Florida, New Mexico, and is already law in California, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Lazarex is the only non-profit in the United States that assists patients with finding clinical trials and reimburses them for the travel costs associated with those clinical trials. In its 14 years, Lazarex has helped reimburse the travel expenses for more than 5,500 patients in clinical trials. In 2018, at the urging of Lazarex, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed its official guidance, issuing new language allowing pharmaceutical companies to reimburse patients for travel costs to get to clinical trials, although not all trial sponsors do this.

Deputy Editor