Dr. Hershman on Drug Adherence in Breast Cancer

Dawn Hershman, MD, MS, medical oncologist, Columbia University Medical Center, discusses how name brands and generic brands affect drug adherence in patients with breast cancer.

Dawn Hershman, MD, MS, medical oncologist, Columbia University Medical Center, discusses how name brands and generic brands affect drug adherence in patients with breast cancer.

At the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Hershman presented a study that compared the use of aromatase inhibitor (AI) use before and after the introduction of generics.

Hershman says the study found that discontinuation rates were higher in patients on brand name AIs compared to generic names. The study also found that patients that have copayments greater than or equal to $20 per month were twice as likely of discontinuing their treatment compared to those who were paying $10 per month or less.

Hershman says income level also plays a role in adherence. The study found that those who had incomes greater than $100,000/year were significantly more likely to adhere to their hormonal therapy than those whose incomes were less than that.

The generic AIs cost about $110 per month while brand name AIs cost $300 per month, Hershman says, with some newer oral agents costing up to $9,000 per month. Since a quarter of the new drugs being developed are oral, Hershman says it is important to think about the price of these agents as well as their efficacy.