The Lynx Group

Financial Toxicity

San Diego, CA—The economic burden faced by patients with cancer who have low income may be more pervasive than previously thought. According to data presented at the 2019 ASCO Quality Care Symposium, even patients enrolled in clinical trials are at high risk for financial toxicity.
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“Treating financial toxicity at the patient level is similar to treating a symptom like fatigue. You can try to prevent it, but to some degree, patients are going to experience it, and when they do, you need a plan,” says Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS.
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In addition to affecting patient well-being and quality of life, financial toxicity has been shown to worsen survival outcomes because of nonadherence to drug therapy. Although policy interventions, improvements in benefit designs, and adjustments to reimbursement may help reduce costs for patients in the long-term, immediate changes are needed to alleviate financial burden, said Yousuf Zafar, MD, MHS, of the Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, NC, at ASCO 2016.
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We have all had that patient—the patient who is prescribed a new targeted therapy and cannot comply with it because it is just too expensive. When asked directly about the reasoning for the noncompliance, the patient suggests that taking the treatment is just too expensive and, in fact, it is cheaper to die.
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