The following article features coverage from the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Off-label prescribing may increase time to medication receipt, but lower costs for patients with soft tissue sarcoma (STS), according to a poster presented at the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Annual Conference.1

Off-label prescribing practices are common for STS, though they are frequently denied by insurance companies. The purpose of this study was to determine the burden to the patient of off-label prescribing.

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In this retrospective chart review, data were collected between 2014 and 2016 from 56 patients with STS and insurance who received an on-label or off-label prescription. The primary endpoint was time to receipt of medication. The secondary endpoint was patient copays for on- vs off-label prescriptions for a 30-day supply of oral chemotherapy.

The most common agents prescribed for STS were pazopanib (50.0%), palbociclib (16.7%), sorafenib (10.0%), sunitinib (6.7%), and everolimus (6.7%), followed by letrozole and temozolomide. For gastrointestinal STS (GIST), the most commonly prescribed agents were imatinib (32.0%), sunitinib (16.0%), ponatinib (20.0%), and sorafenib (12.0%), followed by regorafenib, pazopanib, and nilotinib.

The time to receipt of medication was longer in the off-label cohort, with a mean time of 21.69 days compared with 10.86 days in the on-label group, though this difference was not significant (mean difference, 10.83 days; 95% CI, 0.38-22.04 days; P = .058).

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There was no significant difference in patient costs, but off-label prescriptions trended toward lower cost ($21.19) compared with on-label prescriptions.

These data suggest that off-label prescribing may increase the time to treatment receipt, but may lower costs for patients, though larger studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of the 2017 Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) Annual Conference by visiting the conference page.


  1. Tran V, Latour E, Palumbo A. Off-label versus on-label prescribing of oral oncology agents in patients with soft tissue sarcoma. Poster presented at: 13th Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association Annual Conference; March 29-April 1, 2017; Anaheim, CA.