Trending News Today: Patients Struggling to Manage COPD Drug Costs

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Medicare patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) struggle to afford treatment, Kaiser Health News reported. COPD was the third leading cause of death in the United States in 2014, according to the CDC. An estimated 1 of 9 Medicare beneficiaries are diagnosed with the disease, and inhalers, such as Spiriva and Advair, account for billions in annual Medicare spending. Unfortunately, prices only continue to climb. The list price of Spiriva increased 31% over the past 5 years to $368 for a 30-day supply, KHN reported. Although drug manufacturers have said that insured patients would not pay the list prices because of rebates, discounts, and other price concessions, many patients will be on more than one inhaler. In a recent letter published in JAMA, investigators evaluated Medicare’s prescription drug formularies in 2015 and the projected cost of copayments and deductibles. The findings show that Medicare Part D beneficiaries who had multiple inhalers could spend more than $2800 in out-of-pocket costs per year.

Findings from a major international study revealed that many patients with colon cancer can cut the length of treatment by half, ultimately improving their quality of life and reducing severe adverse events. According to The Washington Post, investigators sought to determine if a 3-month chemotherapy regimen was as effective as 6 months of treatment in patients with stage 3 colon cancer. The investigators obtained data from 6 clinical trials that included nearly 13,000 patients with colon cancer in North America, Europe, and Asia. The results of the study showed that 74.6% of patients in the 3-month regimen arm were cancer-free at 3 years compared with 77.5% in the 6-month regimen arm. The authors concluded that the 3-month treatment was nearly as effective as the longer treatment, and is likely to become a new standard of care.

Patients with metastatic cancer who regularly used a web-based tool to report symptoms while undergoing chemotherapy lived a median of 5 months longer than those who did not use the tool, a recent study found. The investigators enrolled 766 patients with advanced solid tumors who were receiving outpatient chemotherapy, according to Cancer Network. The participants were randomized to either report their symptoms via tablet computers to a group whose symptoms were monitored and documented by clinicians, as per usual. The results of the study showed that nurses took immediate clinical action more than three-quarters of the time when severe or worsening symptoms were reported using the web tool, compared with patients who received usual care. Patients who used the tool to self-report symptoms had a longer median overall survival of 31.2 months compared with 26 months among patients who received usual care. The findings were presented at the 2017 Annual Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago.