Ask any mesothelioma victim about their biggest concerns or stressors as they deal with this rare and fatal form of cancer, and you’re likely to hear a long and painful list. High on that list will be the devastating costs of the various drugs that they need to help fend off their cancer’s growth and improve the quality of their life. In acknowledgement of this issue and with hopes that they will be able to effect change, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has issued a position statement decrying several practices of pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) companies which they say may get in the way of patients being able to take advantage of the drugs that are offered in a timely way or in a way that maximizes the drugs’ benefits.
The ASCO statement addresses the needs of patients dealing with all types of cancer, including malignant mesothelioma. Though they acknowledge that PBM companies act with the intent of providing cost controls, they worry that their single-minded focus may lead to complications, errors in dispensing drugs or doses being changed without physicians being consulted, delays in patients getting much-needed medications due to the need for authorization, or increased out-of-pocket costs for those who need help the most. They have recommended numerous actions that they believe will counter these negative effects, including:
- Letting patients know that any changes made to drugs are done with the consultation and approval of their doctors.
- Eliminating blocks that are in place that keep pharmacists from letting patients know about more cost-effective options for their medications.
- Including oncologists on committees that make decisions about dispensing medications.
Speaking of the recommendations, ASCO President Monica M. Betagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCI said, “Examples are emerging of PBM practices that may place patients at risk of life-threatening complications. There’s no doubt that the high cost of cancer care is a major burden on patients and the healthcare system, but efforts to address the problem shouldn’t come at the expense of quality patient care.”
People who have malignant mesothelioma need to know the best ways to get help with paying their bills, particularly for medical expenses. For information on how we can assist in the process, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.