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Preventive Drugs Often Used in Last Year of a Cancer Patient's Life

MONDAY, April 8, 2019 -- Preventive drugs are frequently used in the last year of life among older adults with cancer, according to a study published online March 25 in Cancer.

Lucas Morin, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues calculated the monthly use and cost of preventive drugs throughout the last year before a patient's death among 151,201 older persons who died with solid tumors during 2007 to 2013.

The researchers found that during the course of the last year before death, the average number of drugs patients received increased from 6.9 to 10.1. Preventive drugs, including antihypertensives, platelet aggregation inhibitors, anticoagulants, statins, and oral antidiabetics, were frequently continued until the final month of life. The median drug costs totaled $1,482 per person, which included $213 for preventive medications. Costs for preventive drugs were higher among older adults who died with pancreatic or gynecologic cancers (adjusted median difference, $13 and $27, respectively) compared with those who died with lung cancer (median drug costs, $205). Throughout the last year of life, there was no decrease noted with respect to the cost of preventive drugs.

"The use of preventive drugs should be reconsidered in light of the patient's goals of care, values, and preferences," the authors write. "Reducing the therapeutic burden in individuals with advanced cancer has the potential to not only reduce unnecessary adverse effects and improve patient quality of life, but also to reduce the financial burden for patients."

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Posted: April 2019

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