State Law Beneffiting Cancer Patients Takes Effect October 1

Marking a Historic Move for North Carolina in Improving Access to Care

September 30, 2020

RALEIGH, NC – September 30, 2020 –Beginning this Thursday, a new law to help improve  North Carolina cancer patients’ access to the most effective cancer treatments will take effect. The law places limits on step therapy policies – also known as “fail first” – that require patients to try less expensive, potentially less effective drugs before they can get coverage for the prescriptions their physicians recommend.

The law marks a historic and life-saving measure for North Carolinians that will improve access to high-quality cancer care by eliminating delays to necessary treatment.

“Access to care and continuity of care have always been critical for cancer patients and survivors, never more so than during a pandemic,” noted John Hoctor, Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Doctors know what is best for their patients, and that’s why ACS CAN and our volunteers across the state fought hard for this law to come to life. We are grateful to the Legislature and Gov. Cooper for ensuring thousands of North Carolinians have access to the quality care they need.”

A common barrier for accessing effective and timely care, step therapy practices can delay treatment and lead to potentially deadly disease progression for cancer patients and others in the Tar Heel state living with chronic diseases. This new law is a crucial step in helping cancer patients manage their care by protecting them from the treatment delays that can be associated with step therapy.

"Patients need the ability to quickly assess their condition with their doctors and find the best course of treatment for their individual medical needs,” shared John Trambotin, State Lead Ambassador for ACS CAN and a past caregiver for his father. “Now they’ll face one fewer hurdle in accessing the prescription drugs they need.”

It’s estimated that nearly 60,000 North Carolinians will be diagnosed with cancer this year. North Carolina is the latest state alongside 20 others in enacting the legislation.

ACS CAN thanks the primary sponsors of HB 450 (Reduce Barriers to Improve NC Health and Safety) Rep. Potts, Rep. Dobson, Rep. Lewis and Rep. Sasser; as well as Rep. Lambeth, Rep. White, Sen. Hise, Sen. Krawiec, Sen. Burgin and Sen. Perry for including step therapy legislation in SB 361 (Healthy NC); and Gov. Roy Cooper for signing SB 361 into law on July 1.


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

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