Senator Madden Introduces Bill To Protect Cancer Patients With DPD Deficiency

On March 7, Senator Madden introduced legislation that would require a physician to offer to test his or her patient for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency prior to chemotherapy treatment with a specific class of drug, called fluoropyrimidines.

Those with DPD deficiency can experience a wide range of severity. A severe deficiency can lead to neurological issues such as epilepsy, intellectual disability, or autistic behaviors, among others. A less severely afflicted individual might be completely asymptomatic.

Certain cancers, such as colorectal, gastrointestinal, breast, cervical, and bladder, can be treated with flouropyrimidines, including Fluorouracil, Capecitabine, and Adrucil. These drugs are not efficiently broken down in patients with DPD deficiency, leading the drug to build up to a toxic level. This can cause many complications or even death. Severe DPD deficiency is rare. However, it is estimated that between 2 and 8% of the population could have some level of the deficiency and be at risk of flouropyrimidine toxicity.

The bill, S3557, would require a physician to offer to test a patient prior to administering treatment with flouropyrimidines. Further, it would require health insurance companies to cover one test per year and any prescription drug treatment of the deficiency.

This bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee.