Wednesday 8 January 2014
The cost of insurance co-payments for cutting-edge pharmaceuticals can vary widely from patient to patient. When the patient’s share of prescription costs becomes too high, many patients skip doses or stop taking medication entirely, according to research conducted at the University of North Carolina.
Using data from health plan claims for the anti-cancer drug imatinib filed between 2002 to 2011, Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD, research professor at the UNC School of Medicine and Gillings School of Global Public Health and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that patients with higher co-payments were 70 percent more likely to stop taking their cancer treatment and 42 percent more likely to skip doses. The study, published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology is one of the first to examine the effect of high out-of-pocket drug costs for targeted cancer therapies on patients.
Dusetzina, along with colleagues from UNC, Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, used health plan claims from privately-insured adult patients (ages 18 to 64) from 2002 and 2011 to examine the relationship between out-of-pocket costs for imatinib, marketed under the trade name Gleevec in the United States, and patient adherence. The data showed that insurance co-payments for imatinib ranged from nothing to $4,792 for a 30-day supply of the medicine, with the costs increasing over the study years.