Financial Toxicity Impacts Prescription Drug Adherence in Patients With Cancer and Survivors

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Financial considerations can drive cancer survivors to request changes to their drug prescriptions.
Financial considerations can drive cancer survivors to request changes to their drug prescriptions.

A recent analysis is suggesting that many cancer survivors are changing their prescription drug use for financial reasons. In a study published online in Cancer researchers examined the financial burden experienced by cancer survivors. They found that non-elderly cancer survivors may be particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon.1

Currently, there is limited information about changes in prescription drug use for financial reasons among cancer survivors. To investigate this, researchers from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health used 2011 to 2014 data from the National Health Interview Survey. This nationally representative survey included 8931 cancer survivors and 126,287 individuals without a cancer history.

Among non-elderly adults, 31.6% of those who had been recently diagnosed with cancer and 27.9% of those who had been previously diagnosed (at least 2 years earlier) reported a change in prescription drug use for financial reasons, compared with 21.4% of adults without a history of cancer. The study showed that non-elderly cancer survivors were more likely to skip medication and delay filling a prescription for financial reasons compared with non-elderly individuals without a cancer history. The study also showed that among privately insured non-elderly cancer survivors, one-third of survivors enrolled in high-deductible plans asked their doctor for lower-cost medications compared with less than one-fifth of survivors enrolled in low-deductible plans.

Reference

1. Zheng Z, Han X, Guy GP Jr, et al. Do cancer survivors change their prescription drug use for financial reasons? Findings from a nationally representative sample in the United States. Cancer. 2017 Feb 20. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30560 [Epub ahead of print]

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