Lack of Advertising and Transparency of PAPs

“There is a very interesting dynamic, where there is assistance, but it’s not always advertised,” said Dr Zafar. “We don’t really understand why there’s not that much transparency when it comes to PAPs. The pharmaceutical industry is often reluctant to advertise it on a broad scale but at the same time, they’re very willing to provide [PAP] assistance.”

Failure to secure such resources can have dire consequences for patients’ compliance with treatment plans, emphasized Dr Zafar.

“We absolutely know that compliance to oral chemotherapy is significantly hampered by out-of-pocket patient costs,” said Dr Zafar. “As out-of-pocket costs rise, adherence declines.”

Accessing PAPs is not always easy. There is “limited” transparency about PAP eligibility and benefits, Dr Zafar, Dr Vlastelica, and colleagues reported at the June 3-7 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).2

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In this retrospective analysis of PAP coverage and cancer drug costs, it was found that between 2013 and 2015, monthly costs for anticancer medications were high, and that PAPs play only a “modest” role in reducing prescription-related costs overall. Of 9388 cancer drug prescriptions, only 16% received PAP assistance, “and of those, the vast majority (87%) received assistance for less than 25% of prescription price,” the authors reported.

“With copays and cost-sharing, a growing proportion of costs are shouldered by patients, so any time cost can be reduced and patients can get the treatments they’re prescribed. I think that’s helpful,” Dr Zafar said. “But from a more societal perspective, we need more research into how PAPs affect adherence, patient costs, and overall costs.”