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Medco Study Finds Many Patients on Newer Oncology Treatments Are at Risk for Drug Interactions
Date:3/16/2012

about one quarter to 75 percent of patients on these oral drugs may not be getting the full benefit of their treatment or may in fact be putting their health at further risk because of another medication they are taking is concerning. Our oncology pharmacists are able to alert doctors about potential medication interactions through our Drug Utilization Review programs that have a complete picture of their prescription drugs."

The study reviewed the pharmacy claims of about 11,600 patients taking one of nine kinase inhibitors that treat different forms of cancer and evaluated the number of patients who were taking at least one other drug that had the potential to cause a drug interaction with their cancer treatment.  In addition to imatinib and erlotinib, the cancer drugs studied included dasatinib (Sprycel®), everolimus (Afinitor®), lapatinib (Tykerb®), nilotinib (Tasigna®), pazopanib (Votrient®), sorafenib (Nexavar®), and sunitinib (Sutent®).  

"Since these are drugs launched in the past decade for fairly small patient populations, we are learning more about how they are used in real-world settings as compared to traditional clinical trials that test safety and efficacy in a tightly-controlled environment," said Dr. Steve Bowlin, senior director and therapeutic area research lead, MRI, and a co-author of the study.  "Oncologists are not always aware of other medications prescribed by other doctors and vice-versa, which can pose a real hazard for their patients on oral cancer therapies."

Toxicity and Impaired Effectiveness
Forty-three percent of the 4,617 patients receiving imatinib in the study were prescribed a drug that may diminish the cancer drug's efficacy and 68 percent of patients received a drug that may raise the level of toxicity of the treatment  The other drugs studied were found to have their efficacy potentially impaired between 23 and 57 percent of th
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
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