Cost Influences Drug Choice

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

MARCH 01, 2017

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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Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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