There is new evidence that out-of-pocket costs do have an impact on access to lifesaving drugs. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that in the first six months after diagnosis, there is quite a low uptake of lifesaving cancer treatments among Medicare patients. “Among nearly 400 Medicare patients diagnosed with the disease between 2007 and 2011, nearly a third never started on the essential drug regimen.”
According to one author of the study, Stacie Dusetzina, also an assistant professor of pharmacy and public health at the University of North Carolina, this is an example of a larger problem. Due to high upfront costs to initiate treatments, patients are putting off taking necessary drugs despite the importance clinicians put on them. The study has limitations but it does raise important questions about how cost is affecting patients’ use of drugs. Read more about the study here.