CMS sets panel review for Provenge

Dendreon-watchers, take note. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has set a date for its review of the company's prostate cancer vaccine, Provenge. That date is Nov. 17. And once again, CMS promises that its final decision on covering Provenge won't be based on its $93,000-per-patient cost.

Shortly after Provenge won FDA approval, CMS announced it would consider a nationwide policy for covering the novel cancer treatment, which is designed to arm patients' immune systems to fight their prostate cancer. The choice to put Provenge under review--a fairly unusual one for a cancer treatment--raised hackles among patients and oncologists, many of whom accused CMS of letting cost get in the way of good treatment.

CMS also drew fire from Congress, with Sens. John Kerry and Arlen Specter writing the agency to question why CMS would review the drug, coverage-wise.

We may or may not hear CMS's explanation before the Nov. 17 meeting. But in any case, the issue will be aired there, and the advisory committee will make its recommendations.

- check out the CMS announcement
- read the Reuters piece