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Cancer patients are locked in an intensifying struggle with insurers, who sometimes force them to try less expensive drugs before moving to more expensive ones, even against doctors’ wishes.

Now the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, is deepening its involvement in the fight, issuing a set of recommendations Tuesday that it hopes insurers will follow as they confront a growing lineup of expensive cancer drugs.


The recommendations focus on an array of insurance industry practices that fall under the rubric of “utilization management strategies,” including prior authorization and “step therapy” guidelines that obligate patients to try cheaper medicines early in the treatment process.

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