This post was written by Jennifer Pike.
On March 7, 2013, the New Jersey Assembly Appropriations Committee approved legislation related to off-label drug coverage. Assembly bill A1830 would require health benefits plans offered to individuals and small employers, the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP), to provide coverage for certain off-label uses for drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The health plans would be required to provide coverage for off-label use of a drug if the drug is recognized as being medically appropriate for the specific treatment for which is has been prescribed in one of two established reference compendia (the American Hospital Formulary Service Drug Information or the U.S. Pharmacopeia Drug Information), or if the drug is recommended by a clinical study or review article in a major peer-reviewed professional journal. According to bill sponsor Herb Conaway M.D., "the purpose of [the] bill is to extend the medical benefits that may derive from the use of off-label drugs to individuals who may not be able to access these medications. In particular those individuals who are suffering from a terminal or chronically debilitating illness, because their insurance carriers won’t cover these drugs.” The full text and status of the bill are available here.