Cancer Drug Parity Laws Lower Costs for Many but Not All

November 9, 2017

State laws designed to ensure that the pill form of cancer drugs is not more costly than treatments given through an infusion in a clinic or hospital have had a mixed impact on patients’ pocketbooks, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers. Forty-three states and Washington, D.C,. enacted so-called “parity laws” since 2011 that require patients pay no more for oral cancer treatments than they would for an infusion of the same treatment. In an analysis of the effect of parity laws published in JAMA Oncology, UNC researchers and collaborators from Harvard Medical School report modest improvements … Continued

Savings Less than Expected for Generic Oral Chemotherapy, Researchers Find

September 11, 2017

A study by researchers at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center determined the cost savings for a generic version of an orally administered cancer treatment were less than expected — a finding that questions the effect generic drugs can have on controlling health-care costs. The researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine that the cost for one fill of the generic form of the chemotherapy treatment capecitabine was $2,328 last year. That price was 36 percent lower than the projected branded drug price in 2016 — a savings the researchers … Continued

Doctors Receiving Pharma Payments More Likely to Prescribe Certain Cancer Drugs

June 1, 2017

Physicians paid by pharmaceutical companies for meals, talks and travel had higher odds of prescribing those companies’ drugs to treat two cancer types, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study has found. “Ideally, therapy choices should be based on two things and two things only: medical evidence and patient preference,” said Aaron Mitchell, M.D., a fellow in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology & Oncology and the study’s lead author. “As patient advocates, we should try to eliminate any barriers to this. We saw a pretty consistent increase in prescribing of a company’s drug stemming from … Continued

Dusetzina Named to National Academies Report Committee

January 9, 2017

Stacie Dusetzina, Ph.D., has been confirmed as a committee member for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report titled “Ensuring Patient Access to Affordable Drug Therapies.” The committee is charged by the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) with issuing a report with recommendations for policy actions that could address drug price trends, improve patient access to affordable and effective treatments and encourage innovations that address significant needs in health care. “Drug pricing and access are complex issues affecting pharmaceutical manufacturers, payers and patients,” Dusetzina said. “These topics have been at the forefront of discussions about … Continued

High Up-Front Costs Could Delay Access to Life-Saving Blood-Cancer Drugs for Medicare Patients

October 4, 2016

The significant out-of-pocket costs that cancer patients can face before Medicare drug benefits kick in may delay the patients’ treatment with a new class of highly effective therapies, according to a University of North Carolina study. In the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers report that nearly a third of a group of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, and who have federally-funded Medicare health insurance, did not start treatment within six months of diagnosis with any of three targeted drugs that have led to dramatic improvements in survival for the disease. However, patients who had access to … Continued

Study Finds Links between Physicians Setting Cancer-Care Guidelines and Drug Industry

August 26, 2016

Nearly 9 out of 10 physicians and researchers who helped develop a leading set of cancer-care guidelines in the United States reported financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study found. Of the 125 panelists who worked on setting the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines for lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, 108 received some form of industry funding. The funding could include general payments for food, lodging or speaker fees, as well as research funding, according to the study published in JAMA Oncology. The majority of those payments were … Continued

Spending on Expensive Specialty Drugs Triples since 2003

July 6, 2016

Specialty drugs are a relatively small part of total prescriptions filled at the pharmacy, but they are a dramatically increasing part of total prescription spending. A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals that just 1.8 percent of drugs make up 43.2 percent of spending in 2014. The work, led by Stacie Dusetzina, an assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and Gillings School of Global Public Health, shows a dramatic increase from 2003, when specialty drugs accounted for just 11 percent of the money spent by commercial health plans on prescription drugs … Continued

Promise of Almost a Year More of Life for Targeted Drug Not Reality for All Liver Cancer Patients

May 16, 2016

For advanced liver cancer, there’s a single approved drug shown to offer patients a chance at longer life. But a new study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers found that this drug was notably less effective in a group of Medicare patients who likely had more extensive cancer and serious liver disease than patients included in clinical trials. In the journal the Oncologist, researchers report that the median survival for a group of Medicare patients on the drug sorafenib was three months, which is significantly lower than the median survival of nearly 11 months for patients treated … Continued

Costs for Orally Administered Cancer Drugs Skyrocket

April 28, 2016

New cancer drugs taken in pill form have become dramatically more expensive in their first year on the market compared with drugs launched 15 years ago, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study has found. The findings call into question the sustainability of a system that sets high prices at market entry in addition to rapidly increasing those prices over time. The researchers report April 28 in JAMA Oncology that a month of treatment with orally administered cancer drugs introduced in 2014 was, on average, six times more expensive at launch than cancer drugs introduced in 2000 after … Continued

Older Women, Especially Blacks, Receive Targeted Breast Cancer Treatment at Low Rates

April 12, 2016

The advent of targeted drugs for a specific type of breast cancer – HER2 positive – has dramatically improved survival rates for women with the disease. But a study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reveals low rates of use of a targeted drug among older women with early-stage breast cancer of this type, and even lower rates for older black women. “This is significant because we know that there is a large number of women here who are not receiving a therapy that we know would give them a better chance of survival,” … Continued