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New Study Finds Three in Ten Women Take Common Breast Cancer Drug to Treat Infertility

Treatment May Put Fetus at Risk; Limiting Non-Approved Use Could Improve Safety and Save Costs

SAN DIEGO, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- About three in ten patients using letrozole (Femara®), a common medication for treating breast cancer, are likely taking the medication to treat infertility, according to a new study presented today at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy's 22nd Annual Meeting in San Diego by Prime Therapeutics (Prime), a thought leader in pharmacy benefit management.

Letrozole is indicated for post-menopausal women with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer. It is prescribed off-label for the treatment of infertility, despite being assigned a pregnancy-risk category D by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which indicates the drug is associated with human fetal risk.

Researchers from Prime and one of its Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) clients reviewed approximately 1.5 million members' claims data from two BCBS commercial plans between July 2008 and June 2009 to determine how often the drug is being used to treat infertility.

The study was designed to evaluate whether a pharmacy utilization management program may help to improve patient safety, decrease costs and prevent inappropriate medication use. The average cost of the drug for these members was $173.57 per claim. According to researchers, a pharmacy benefit utilization management program for letrozole could help reduce fetal risk and reduce costs.

"Restricting reimbursement of letrozole to FDA-approved indications has the potential to not only reduce costs but also to improve the quality of care, since this drug is associated with important safety issues in pregnant women," said Pat Gleason, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, Director of Clinical Outcomes Assessment with Prime.

The published study abstract can be found in the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy at


Fenrick B, et al. Letrozole (Femara) Medical and Pharmacy Integrated Analysis: Utilization Management Opportunity. J Manag Care Pharm 2010;16:157.

Prime Therapeutics is a pharmacy benefit management company dedicated to providing innovative, clinically-based, cost-effective pharmacy solutions for clients and members. Providing pharmacy benefit services nationwide to approximately 14.7 million covered lives, its client base includes Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, employer and union groups, and third-party administrators. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Prime Therapeutics is collectively owned by 12 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, subsidiaries or affiliates of those Plans. Learn more at

Source: Prime Therapeutics LLC

CONTACT: Sheila Thelemann, Director, PR and Marketing Communications of
Prime Therapeutics, +1-612-777-5508,

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Posted: April 2010