Higher co-payments lead to early discontinuation of life-saving therapy for breast cancer

December 07, 2015

In the 65 and older group, women were more likely to discontinue medication use if they fell in the co-payment categories above $30. However, in the under 65 age group co-payments needed to reach $90 or more before they were more likely to discontinue use or not take it as prescribed.

Additionally, the study results showed that women whose prescriptions came from a primary care doctor or women who were prescribed many other medications were also more likely to stop taking the medications or not take it as prescribed.

"When we have highly effective medications available, we need to try to set limits on potential barriers to use like co-payments," said Dr. Hershman. Based on these findings, "future public policy efforts should be directed towards reducing financial constraints as a means of increasing the complete use of these life-saving medications."

"While high co-payments have been shown to reduce compliance for other drugs, this is the first study to show an impact on such a crucial drug where mortality can be so directly at stake," said Alfred Neugut, MD, the Myron M. Studner Professor of Cancer Research at Columbia's College of Physician and Surgeons and professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Source: Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health