Variation in the cost of medications for the treatment of colorectal cancer.


Journal Article

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the economic burden of colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment on the healthcare system as treatment costs have risen 340-fold during the past 5 years. STUDY DESIGN: Nationwide registry. METHODS: Patients with CRC (N = 421) were selected from an observational prospective patient registry of US oncology clinics. The 8 most commonly prescribed regimens were identified. Standard dosing schedules were set for these regimens based on a literature review and expert CRC oncologist input. Each chemotherapeutic regimen was broken down into its component agents, and regimen costs were calculated by summing the costs of each agent per regimen. Price-per-milligram costs were calculated from Health Care Financing Administration Common Procedural Coding System codes for specific drugs. Patient population, temporal, and regional trends were studied among standard regimens. RESULTS: The most common regimens were 5-fluorouracil-leucovorin calcium (5-FU/LV) (147 patients [34.9%]), fluorouracil-leucovorin-irinotecan hydrochloride (FOLFIRI) (111 patients [26.4%]), and fluorouracil-leucovorin-oxaliplatin (103 patients [24.5%]). The remaining 60 patients (14.3%) received irinotecan, capecitabine, and oxaliplatin; oxaliplatin; irinotecan in combination with oxaliplatin; or a miscellaneous regimen. The largest cost differential for 6 cycles of planned treatment was $35,971 between FOLFIRI ($36,999) and 5-FU/LV ($1028). On a per-week basis, treatment costs may differ by more than 91 times. Patient utilization of growth factors, ancillary medications, and monoclonal antibodies added significant costs. CONCLUSIONS: The costs of CRC regimens varied considerably. Trends in treatment regimens have changed notably over time, with newer agents and supportive drugs adding substantially to treatment costs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ferro, SA; Myer, BS; Wolff, DA; Poniewierski, MS; Culakova, E; Cosler, LE; Scarpace, SL; Khorana, AA; Lyman, GH

Published Date

  • November 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 717 - 725

PubMed ID

  • 18999906

Pubmed Central ID

  • 18999906

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1936-2692


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States