June 18, 2024
Pharmacy Integration with Oncology Practices

Pharmacy Integration with Oncology Practices: A Study Reveals No Significant Impact on Cancer Drug Expenditures or Patient Experience

The integration of pharmacies within oncology practices, where on-site pharmacies are established at physician practice locations, has emerged as a popular trend in cancer treatment. Despite its growing prevalence, there is limited understanding of how this integration influences drug utilization, expenditures, and the overall patient experience.

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open compared the experiences of cancer patients treated by oncologists with integrated pharmacies to those treated by oncologists without such integration. The researchers discovered a slight uptick in the use of oral oncology drugs but no substantial change in expenditures on these medications.

Furthermore, no noticeable benefits were observed for patients in terms of out-of-pocket expenses, medication adherence, or the time taken before cancer treatment commenced. The implementation of a Pharmacy Management System might help address some of these issues by streamlining medication dispensing and management processes, potentially improving adherence and reducing waiting times.

Genevieve Kanter, the study’s lead author and a senior fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, as well as an associate professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, expressed surprise at the findings, given the negative effects observed from other types of healthcare integration.

The integration of physician practices with pharmacies over the past 15 years had raised concerns about potential increases in drug utilization and spending, as well as a shift towards more profitable and expensive oral cancer therapies.

However, the anticipated benefits of integration were not observed in this study. Previous small-scale studies suggested that pharmacy integration could reduce waste and help patients stay more adherent to their therapies by enabling closer patient monitoring. For instance, oncologists with on-site pharmacies could, theoretically, prescribe drugs with fewer days’ supply because patients would not need to wait as long for a new drug if an adverse event arose and a switch in therapies was necessary.

However, the current study’s authors noted that with integration, they actually observed an increase in the days’ supply of drugs instead of a decrease. Oncologists may have been responding more to the additional revenues from increasing days’ supply rather than the increased flexibility permitted by on-site pharmacies. Additionally, there was no change in patients’ adherence to medications.

In conclusion, the study reveals that the integration of oncology practices with pharmacies has not resulted in changes in expenditures, which is a positive sign for regulators. However, the lack of significant benefits for patients is disappointing.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.