Meera V. Ragavan, Scott Swartz, Mackenzie Clark, Mimi Lo, Arjun Gupta, Fumiko Chino, Tracy Kuo Lin

Access to Financial Assistance Programs and Their Impact on Overall Spending on Oral Anticancer Medications at an Integrated Specialty Pharmacy

  • Oncology (nursing)
  • Health Policy
  • Oncology

PURPOSE Financial assistance (FA) programs are increasingly used to help patients afford oral anticancer medications (OAMs), but access to such programs and their impact on out-of-pocket (OOP) spending has not been well explored. This study aimed to (1) characterize the impact of receipt of FA on both OOP spending and likelihood of catastrophic spending on OAMs and (2) evaluate racial/ethnic disparities in access to FA programs. METHODS Patients with a cancer diagnosis prescribed an OAM anytime between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021 were included in this retrospective, single-center study at an integrated specialty pharmacy affiliated with a tertiary academic cancer center. Fixed-effect regression models were used to characterize the impact of receipt of FA on overall spending and likelihood of catastrophic spending on OAMs, as well as explore the association of race/ethnicity with receipt of FA. RESULTS Across 1,186 patients prescribed an OAM, 37% received FA. Receipt of FA was associated with lower annual spending on OAMs (β = –$1,236 US dollars [USD; 95% CI, –$1,841 to –$658], P < .001) but not reduced risk of catastrophic spending (odds ratio [OR], 0.442 [95% CI, 0.755 to 3.199], P = .23). Non-White patients (OR, 0.60 [95% CI, 0.43 to 0.85], P = .004) and patients who spoke English as a second language (OR, 0.46 [95% CI, 0.23 to 0.90], P = .02) were less likely to receive FA compared with White and English-speaking patients, respectively. CONCLUSION FA programs can mitigate high OOP spending but not for patients who spend at catastrophic levels. There are racial/ethnic and language disparities in access to such programs. Future studies should evaluate access to FA programs across diverse delivery settings.

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