Finding the Lowest-Cost Pharmacy for Cancer Supportive Care Medications: Not so Easy

Andrew Etteldorf, Shannon Rotolo, Ramy Sedhom, Rachel I Vogel, Anne Blaes, Stacie B. Dusetzina, Beth Virnig, Arjun Gupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE:To decrease the financial burden on people with cancer, clinicians and patients increasingly use medication price comparison websites to seek pharmacies where medications may be cheaper. Shopping around at different pharmacies can add additional time and logistic burden to patients and care partners. We sought to determine whether a single pharmacy consistently offered the lowest price for symptom control medications.METHODS:We compiled medications/formulations used to manage two common cancer-associated symptoms: nausea/vomiting and anorexia/cachexia. We extracted discounted, lowest price with coupon prices for a typical fill of these medications at nine pharmacies in Minneapolis, MN, using GoodRx. We compared prices across formulations and pharmacies to assess whether a pharmacy consistently offered the lowest price.RESULTS:We included 24 formulations for nausea/vomiting (14 generic and 10 brand-name) and 19 for anorexia/cachexia (12 generic and seven brand-name). Prices for brand-name formulations were similar across pharmacies, but prices of generic formulations varied widely across pharmacies. For example, the prices of a seven-unit fill of generic 5-mg olanzapine tablets ranged from $4 to $57 US dollars. No single pharmacy consistently offered the lowest price across the formulations studied. For example, for the 12 generic formulations for anorexia/cachexia, one pharmacy had the highest price for four formulations and the lowest price for two others.CONCLUSION:In this study of discounted medication prices, we found that no single pharmacy in an urban zip code consistently offered the lowest price for medications used to manage two common cancer-associated symptoms. Well-intentioned efforts to pursue the cheapest source of each medication by visiting multiple pharmacies may add extra time and logistic toxicity to patients and care partners. This approach can increase redundant scripts and expose patients to medication-related adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberOP.22.00051
JournalJCO Oncology Practice
Volume18
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society of Clinical Oncology.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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