Coping With the Cost of AML Care: Anxiety From Financial Toxicity

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Topics include: Living With Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Financial and Insurance

Although doctors and patients are excited about the approval of a number of new agents for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the insurance cost structure leaves many families feeling anxious and worried about covering the expense. How can people deal with financial toxicity from AML care? Watch as AML expert Dr. Thomas LeBlanc, from Duke Cancer Institute, and Michelle Rajotte, from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), discuss financial barriers to AML treatment and resources to help patients find assistance.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) program produced by Patient Power in partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  We thank Celgene Corporation, Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, Helsinn and Novartis for their financial support through grants to PEN. These organizations have no editorial control.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Beth Probert:              

Do you encounter, through your care and conversations with clients, their anxiety over the financial part of care? Is that something that you hear often?

Dr. LeBlanc:              

Absolutely. The idea of financial toxicity, sort of like other kinds of systemic toxicities you would have from chemotherapy, it's just as real as a patient who gets neuropathy from their chemo. And in some cases, may be more crippling. 

One of my colleagues here at Duke is a leading researcher in this area, and he's taught me a lot about this, and unfortunately, I've seen it a lot in my clinic. And as we are fortunate to have a number of new therapies available for AML and other diseases like multiple myeloma, the unfortunate aspect of this issue is that many of them are pills, and may states do not have parity laws in place that require insurers to treat pills the same way as they do chemo therapy that you would get in an infusion suite. North Carolina is unfortunately one of those, where I practice, where we still don’t have a law.

And that's sometimes means I'm talking to a patient about an exciting new therapy, and then I find out that their monthly co-pay is going to be $3,000, and who can afford that? That's just the co-pay amount for the patient just for one month of medication. This is, unfortunately, happening a lot. And thankfully, there are many resources that we can engage to help patients with these issues, but it is an increasing problem as medications are more sophisticated, they also have gotten much more expensive.

Beth Probert:              

Yeah, and we hear this so often. And, of course, Michelle, I'm sure you're hearing this, as well. And your department can direct people to the appropriate resources?

Michelle Rajotte:        

Yes. It's something we hear every day, unfortunately. Like Dr. LeBlanc was saying, we've got all these great new treatments now, but so many of them are oral, and a lot of patients, if they're on Medicaid/Medicare especially, their co-pay is extremely high.

We do have co-pay assistance through LLS, we will also refer people onto other organizations that have assistance if we know of them. So, anywhere we can get people to get the help. We also do a lot of advocacy on that end, and we're in Washington a lot and we're sharing a lot of patient stories, and we're trying to get the word out there that we shouldn’t have these barricades to treatment. We do all this research, we find all these wonderful treatments, and then people can't have access to them. And that shouldn’t be.

So, that's one of the things, along with the research and the patient assistance we have, we also focus on the advocacy part, and making sure that the oral parity bills are passed in hopefully every state. And that things are little bit more on an even plane, so people can use these wonderful treatments that are coming out.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on June 21, 2019