HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, receipt of a prescription subsidy is associated with improved persistence to breast cancer hormone therapy for Hispanic, black and white women.

Alana Biggers, MD, MPH, from the University of Illinois-Chicago, and colleagues identified a nationwide cohort of 25,111 female Medicare D enrollees aged ≥65 years with a breast cancer operation between 2006 and 2007 and at least 1 prescription filled for oral breast cancer hormonal therapy. 

The authors examined the role of out-of-pocket cost supports though the Medicare Part D Low-Income subsidy on racial/ethnic disparities in persistence and adherence to breast cancer hormone therapy.

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The researchers found that by 2 years, 69 and 70% of black and Hispanic patients, respectively, were persistent, compared with 61% of white patients. Patients in all 3 unsubsidized race or ethnicity groups had greater discontinuation than subsidized groups in adjusted analyses (hazard ratios for white, black and Hispanic patients: 1.83, 2.09 and 3.00, respectively). 

Racial or ethnic disparities in persistence seen for unsubsidized patients were not seen or were reversed for subsidized patients. Higher adherence was seen for all 3 subsidized race or ethnicity groups.

“Given high subsidy enrollment among black and Hispanic women, policies targeted at low-income patients have the potential to also substantially reduce racial and ethnic disparities,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


Biggers A, et al. “Medicare D Subsidies And Racial Disparities In Persistence And Adherence With Hormonal Therapy”. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2016. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.67.3350. [Epub ahead of print]

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