Nonadherence hampering cancer outcomes

November 4, 2013

Orally administered chemotherapies have become standards of care with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and some forms of leukemia, with an estimated one third of all new cancer treatments being developed as oral formulations.

Orally administered chemotherapies have become standards of care with melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and some forms of leukemia, with an estimated one third of all new cancer treatments being developed as oral formulations.

The availability of these oral medications shifts a huge amount of responsibility for properly taking them to patients. But a recent report in Kantar Health’s Global Health and Wellness Update indicates that a significant percentage of patients taking these oral medications engage in nonadherent behavior.

The report was written by Amir Goren, PhD, Kantar’s manager of health economics and outcomes research, and Marco DiBonaventura, Kantar’s vice president of health economics and outcomes research.

Data from the 2012 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey surveyed adults receiving treatments for melanoma, NSCLC, and leukemia. Sixty five percent of respondents reported some kind of nonadherence, including 71% of leukemia patients, 65% of NSCLC patients, and 59% of melanoma patients.

Nonadherence examples included stopping medication, forgetting to take it, or carelessly taking it. Nonadherent patients (54.3 years old) were younger than adherent one (62.3 years old); were less likely to be unemployed; and twice as likely to smoke cigarettes.

According to the report, nonadherent cancer patients had an average of 1.2 visits to the emergency room and were hospitalized 1 time over the preceding months, compared to 0.2 ER visits and 0.4 hospitalizations for fully adherent patients.

“Because the data revealed a significant level of nonadherence among patients with cancers were oral therapies and the standard of care, an emphasis needs to be places on improving adherence rates to maximize treatment benefit and reduce societal costs,” the authors wrote.