Aaron P. Mitchell, David Nemirovsky, Akriti Mishra Meza, Nirjhar Chakraborty, Sonia Persaud, Azeez Farooki, Michael J. Morris

Costs to Medicare of Nonrecommended Bone-Modifying Agent Use for Castration-Sensitive Prostate Cancer

  • Oncology (nursing)
  • Health Policy
  • Oncology

PURPOSE Bone-modifying agents (BMAs) do prevent skeletal-related events among patients with castration-sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC), but many patients receive BMAs unnecessarily. The costs to Medicare from overuse have not been assessed. METHODS We used linked SEER-Medicare data 2011-2015 to measure the frequency and number of doses of zoledronic acid (ZA) and denosumab received during CSPC (between diagnosis and initiation of metastatic, castration resistant prostate cancer therapy). We estimated excess BMA among patients who received BMA therapy for CSPC and did not have an indication for osteoporosis fracture prevention. We used the Medicare fee schedule for drug prices and peer-reviewed sources to estimate adverse event frequencies and costs. RESULTS Median CSPC duration was 387 days (IQR, 253-573), during which time 42% of patients received ≥one dose of denosumab (mean doses, 7) and 18% received ≥one dose of ZA (mean doses, 7). Thirty-eight percent of those receiving denosumab and 47% of those receiving ZA had a history of osteoporosis, osteopenia, spine or hip fracture, or hypercalcemia. The estimated, annual excess BMA cost to Medicare was $44,105,041 in US dollars (USD), composed of $43,303,078 USD and $45,512 USD in drug costs for denosumab and ZA, respectively, and $682,865 USD and $75,585 USD in adverse event costs, respectively. In one-way sensitivity analysis, the estimate was most sensitive to denosumab dosing frequency (estimate range, $28,469,237 USD-$98,830,351 USD) and duration of CSPC (estimate range, $36,823,311 USD-$99,015,908 USD). CONCLUSION BMA overuse in CSPC incurs substantial cost to Medicare, largely because of denosumab drug costs. Excess costs may be reduced by greater adherence to guideline-concordant BMA use.

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