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    High-cost drugs impose a financial burden on patients with cancer. Karmanos Specialty Pharmacy (KSP) developed a process to automate financial assistance (FA) applications to decrease patient drug cost. We evaluate the outcomes of this program on cost to patients and payers. This is an observational, retrospective study of the KSP claims data set from January to December 2019, accessed by 13 statewide cancer centers within Michigan. Drug cost of patients, payers, FA (funds to lower patient drug cost), and types of FA were obtained. A subset analysis was performed to determine drug delivery times. In 2019, 869 prescriptions and 1,722 prescription fills were provided to 463 patients through KSP. The total cost of drug claims was approximately $10 million US dollars (USD) among Medicare patients (58%), approximately $3.4 million USD for privately insured patients (20%), and approximately $3.7 million USD for Medicaid patients (22%). Twenty-seven percent of patients (22% of all prescription fills) required additional FA with initial total co-payment claims of $335,216 USD. $280,988 USD of FA was obtained, which substantially lowered total patient costs by 81%. $250,818 USD of FA obtained was from foundation grants (327 fills), and $21,441 USD from manufacturer co-pay cards (47 fills). An additional $12,260 USD (12 fills) from a Karmanos Patient Assistance Fund was used. There was high dependence on foundation grant assistance among Medicare patients (33% of claims). In a subset analysis, the median time from prescription written to delivery to the patient was < 7 days (0-56 days). Twenty-seven percent of patients (22% of prescriptions fills) in 2019 required additional FA for high-cost drugs. KSP substantially reduced patient cost by implementing an efficient process using additional pharmacy assistants to obtain FA.


    Erlene K Seymour, Lucius Daniel, Eva Pointer, Jordan Julian, Stephen T Smith, Charles A Schiffer. How to Effectively Decrease Patient Co-Payments of High-Cost Drugs Through Innovation: Lessons From the Karmanos Specialty Pharmacy. JCO oncology practice. 2022 Jan;18(1):e137-e151

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    PMID: 34406816

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