Decision Resources, Inc., one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that targeted cancer therapies are expanding the oncology market by increasing the age limit for treatment, but some elderly patients will not benefit from the molecular revolution. According to a new PhysicianForum report entitled Targeted Cancer Therapies: Treatment and Reimbursement Issues, more than 80% of oncologists say that the availability of targeted cancer therapies is increasing the number of elderly patients who they treat; 64% of these respondents state that the increase is due to fewer side effects associated with targeted agents compared with chemotherapy.
However, elderly patients on low incomes may find it increasingly difficult to get cancer treatment. Nearly one-fifth of office-based oncologists are planning to limit treatment of Medicare patients in the next 12 months.
"Office-based oncologists report that 16% of their Medicare patients who are candidates for targeted therapies fail to undergo treatment for cost- related reasons, most frequently because the patient cannot afford the copayment or coinsurance," said Mary Argent-Katwala, Ph.D., analyst at Decision Resources. "The extent of this problem varies between therapies: oncologists estimate that 10% of eligible patients fail to receive Avastin because patients cannot afford the copayments or because the drug is not available on the formulary for the desired use; for Sutent, the corresponding figure is 52%."
The report also finds that HMOs are adopting aggressive management techniques to guide prescribing practices. HMOs are shifting targeted cancer therapies from medical to pharmacy benefit to control costs.
PhysicianForum is a primary research service from Decision Resources that offers access to high volume-prescribing physicians, specialists, and managed care organization representatives in the United States; analysis of events and survey participants' responses to them; insight into prescribing patterns; and an examination of the implications of events and issues for the pharmaceutical market.
Targeted Cancer Therapies: Treatment and Reimbursement Issues is based on a U.S. survey of 20 HMO pharmacy directors, 71 office-based oncologists, and 31 hospital oncologists. Their responses were compared to assess similarities and differences of opinion regarding clinical, economic, and scientific factors.
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