PHARMACY

Study finds 10% of cancer patients abandon oral anti-cancer medications

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Despite the promise of oral drugs for treating cancer, high costs and the burden of taking multiple medications drive 10% of patients prescribed the drugs not to fill their initial prescriptions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice and the American Journal of Managed Care.

Healthcare research firm Avalere Health conducted the study, “Patient and Plan Characteristics Affecting Abandonment of Oral Oncolytic Prescriptions,” by examining pharmacy transaction data on 10,508 patients from between 2007 and 2009, and will present results of the study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting next month.

The study found that high cost and having to take multiple prescriptions were the leading factors in 10% of patients abandoning their drugs. For example, claims with cost sharing of more than $500 were four times as likely to be abandoned as those with cost sharing of $100 or less.

“Our study shows that many cancer patients are abandoning the medicine they need,” Avalere Health VP Lauren Barnes said. “With 45.5% of Medicare patients in our sample facing cost sharing greater than $500 for their first anti-cancer drug, this is a Medicare quality issue of the first order.”

Higher rates of abandonment were found among Medicare patients and those with lower incomes. Patients with incomes less than $40,000 per year had an abandonment rate of 11%, compared with 10% for those making $40,000 to $75,000, and 9% for those making more than $75,000. Among Medicare patients, abandonment rates were 16%, compared with 9% of those with commercial insurance. In addition, patients with more than five drug claims for noncancer medicines in the previous month had an abandonment rate of 12%, compared with 9% with no claims.

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MinuteClinic announces clinical collaboration with Inova

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic division has announced a clinical collaboration with northern Virginia healthcare provider Inova Health System to enhance healthcare services provided in communities throughout Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

Inova operates a network of hospitals, outpatient services and healthcare centers that includes Inova Alexandria, Inova Fairfax, Inova Fair Oaks, Inova Loudoun and Inova Mount Vernon hospitals, and Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children.

MinuteClinic has 14 in-store health clinics throughout northern Virginia.

"Inova has a long-standing record of clinical quality and is one of the mid-Atlantic’s premier health systems," stated Andrew Sussman, president of MinuteClinic, and SVP and associate medical officer for CVS Caremark. "Like MinuteClinic, it shares a commitment to expanding access to care for the millions of residents living in northern Virginia, and it has developed several leading initiatives with the region’s top corporations to improve the health of their employees. We think MinuteClinic can be a valuable addition to these programs that promote employee wellness and lower healthcare costs."

Under the agreement, Inova will ensure that there is a collaboration with MinuteClinic’s medical directors, many of whom include Inova-affiliated family physicians. In addition, MinuteClinic and Inova also will collaborate on patient education and disease management initiatives, and will inform patients of the services each offers. Inova will accept patients who need a level of care that is not provided at MinuteClinic. Signage at MinuteClinic locations will inform patients that each site has a clinical affiliation with Inova.

MinuteClinic and Inova will begin to work toward fully integrating their electronic medical record systems to streamline communication around all aspects of each individual’s care.

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Taking a bite out of Rx costs with BigAppleRx card

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A newly launched prescription card offers discounts at more than 2,000 pharmacies in New York.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, city council speaker Christine Quinn and deputy mayor Linda Gibbs announced Wednesday the launch of the BigAppleRx card, available free of charge to anyone regardless of age, income, citizenship or health insurance status, that enables citizens to save an average of 47% on prescription medications in the city. This includes savings of up to $831 per year in savings on generic glucose control drugs for patients with diabetes and $667 per year on asthma drugs.

“All too often, the rising costs of prescription drugs place a burden on New York City households,” Bloomberg said. “And this is particularly true for the more than 1 million New Yorkers who don’t have health insurance. Having access to a free prescription drug card can mean the difference between being able to afford prescriptions and being forced to skip doses.”

Starting Wednesday, anyone interested in obtaining a card and any business interested in distributing them can visit Bigapplerx.com or dial 311.

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