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Stroupe KT, Tarlov E, Weichle TW, Zhang QL, Michaelis LC, Ozer H, Durazo-Arvizu R, Hynes DM. Costs of care for lung and colon cancer patients receiving chemotherapy following FDA policy changes. Supportive Care in Cancer : Official Journal of The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer. 2014 Dec 1; 22(12):3153-63.
PURPOSE: Use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in US cancer care declined amidst post-marketing evidence of adverse effects and the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) addition of a "black-box" warning to product labeling in March 2007. Because reduced ESA use may have led to more transfusions or increased anemia-related health care needs, we measured the policy's impact on health care costs of lung and colon cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. METHODS: In a retrospective cohort study of 13,630 lung and 3,198 colon cancer patients in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) between 2002 and 2008, we calculated anemia treatment (ESA and transfusion), cancer- and non-cancer-related, and total health care costs for the chemotherapy episode of care. We used multivariable regression to examine health care costs and utilization between patients whose chemotherapy was administered before (PRE) or after (POST) March 1, 2007. RESULTS: ESA costs declined and transfusion costs were similar, resulting in lower overall POST-period anemia treatment costs (lung, $526 lower, P? < 0.01; colon, $504 lower, P? < 0.01). Other cancer-related health care costs increased, resulting in markedly higher POST-period total health care costs (lung, $4,706 higher, P? < 0.01; colon, $11,414 higher, P? < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Although chemotherapy episode anemia treatment costs declined after the black-box warning, the savings were offset by increases in other cancer-related costs. Those increases were mainly in outpatient services and pharmacy, suggesting that likely drivers include adoption of new high-cost diagnostic approaches and therapeutic modalities. Additional research is needed to determine the effects of anemia management changes on patient outcomes and to more fully understand cost-benefit relationships in cancer treatment.