PHILADELPHIA The majority of cancer doctors, patients, and members of the general public support cutting health care costs by refusing to pay for drugs that don't improve survival or quality of life, according to results of a new study that will be presented by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago in early June (Abstract #6518).
The Penn Medicine team surveyed 326 adult cancer patients receiving treatment at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, a random sample of 891 adults in the general public, and 250 oncologists across the United States during 2012 to probe their opinions about tactics for controlling costs associated with cancer care.
"We found that the majority of respondents considered Medicare spending a big or moderate problem, and many suggested that Medicare could spend less without causing harm," said the study's lead author, Keerthi Gogineni, MD, MSHP, an instructor in the division of Hematology-Oncology in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "We know that cancer patients and their doctors face decisions every day that stand to raise health care costs without conferring much benefit to patients, and our survey has identified some common themes in how these groups of stakeholders might propose to lower costs of care while still protecting patients."
More than 90 percent of all three groups surveyed attributed rising costs to drug companies charging too much, and more than 80 percent of each group cited insurance company profits as a driver of rising costs. Many also thought hospitals and doctors conducted unnecessary tests and provided unnecessary treatments (69 percent of patients, 81 percent of the general public, and 70 percent of doctors).
The research team, which includes senior author Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, presented a v
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University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine