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Healthcare Resource Utilization Nearly Identical for Adherent and Nonadherent Patients Prescribed Oral Anti-Cancer Drugs

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Adherent patients accessed services only slightly more.

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Treatment adherence has always been a vital part of healthcare, however, there is limited data on the relationship between oral anti-cancer medication adherence and healthcare resource utilization (HRU) during the first year of treatment.

To find a potential link, a research team led by Ami Vyas, Ph.D., MS, MBA, Associate Professor at the University of Rhode Island, studied a group of 37,938 patients who received at least 1 oral anti-cancer prescription between July 2010 and December 2017. A majority (52.1%) of patients were 65 and older with a Medicare Advantage insurance plan. About half (50.7%) were female and white (61.1%).

Researchers found that adherent and non-adherent patients accessed HRU roughly the same amount, with adherent patients accessing them slightly more (51.9%). This may be because of ongoing monitoring of the patient, but more research is needed to be sure of this relationship over longer periods.

Results were published last week in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy.

Adherence was measured by how often patients refilled their medication. To be considered adherent, the proportion of days covered threshold must have been 80% or higher.

The cancers studied were blood, brain, breast, colorectal, liver, lung, ovarian, prostate, renal, and stomach cancer. They were chosen because they are common and have a high mortality rate.

Measured HRU categories included physician office visits, outpatient visits, ED visits, and inpatient hospital and hospice use. The most frequently accessed HRUs were physician office visits and outpatient visits.

“Nonadherence to medication has been shown to be associated with increased HRU across a range of non-cancer chronic conditions,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that although efforts to promote adherence to oral oncology medications may enhance patient treatment outcomes, better adherence may not yield lower healthcare use during the first year of treatment.”

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