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Cost Influences Drug Choice

Posted 3/1/2017

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  This study just published in Cancer does not come as a surprise. We have been reading and talking a lot about rising costs in cancer care, many of them related to the sky-high cost of some new drugs. What is different here is the suggestion that patients too often change (or skip) their prescribed first choice medications because of the cost. You know, if an oncologist suggests new drug X that comes with a monthly co-pay of $700, older drug Y that comes with a $25 co-pay may be the only real choice. Of course what also needs to be remembered, and I have written about this before, is that not all new drugs even hint at living up to their hype. It may cost you $700/month and be absolutely no better than the $25/month one.

 So put this new fact in the increasingly crowded and complicated conversation about health care and the need for reform. Interestingly, the biggest impact was reported for non-elderly cancer patients. My hunch about this one is that older people are likely to have Medicare. Medicare surely does not cover everything, but it may well be better than some other health insurance policies.

  From EurekAlert Science News:

 Many cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons

A new analysis indicates that many cancer survivors change their prescription drug use (including skipping
doses or requesting cheaper medications) for financial reasons. Published early online in CANCER, a
peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study provides important information on the
financial burden experienced by cancer survivors, suggesting non-elderly cancer survivors are particularly
vulnerable to this phenomenon.
Although research has shown that cancer drugs can represent considerable costs for cancer patients and their
families, there is limited information about changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons among
cancer survivors. To further investigate this, researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health used 2011-2014 data from the
National Health Interview Survey, an annual household interview survey conducted by the CDC. This nationally
representative survey included 8931 cancer survivors and 126,287 individuals without a cancer history.

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