Use and costs of oral anticancer agents in the Netherlands in the period 2000–2008

Authors


L. Timmers, Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacy, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1118, 1081 HZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: l.timmers@vumc.nl

ABSTRACT

Purpose

In recent years, the number of oral anticancer agents has increased substantially. Although these agents have quickly been incorporated in the treatment of a variety of malignancies, data on their incidence, prevalence and costs are lacking. The objective of the present study was to obtain insight into the use and the costs of oral anticancer agents (with Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system (World Health Organisation) code L01) in the Netherlands between 2000 and 2008.

Methods

Incidence and prevalence were determined using community pharmacy dispensing records obtained from the PHARMO Record Linkage System database. The data of costs were provided by the Genees- en hulpmiddelen Informatie Project of the Dutch Health Care Insurance Board (CVZ, Diemen, The Netherlands).

Results

In the years 2000–2008, the use of oral anticancer agents has more than doubled from 64 to 140 users per 100 000 inhabitants. The increase is mainly caused by the prescription of capecitabine for various indications. There was a 50-fold rise in costs on oral anticancer agents from €2 m in 2000 to approximately €100 m in 2008. The share in the costs of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in 2008 was 67% (€70 m) with the oldest TKI, imatinib, having a share of more than 50% within the group of TKIs.

Conclusions

The increased use of oral anticancer agents is mainly due to the frequent prescription of capecitabine. The increased costs are caused by the registration of a variety of TKIs, in particular imatinib. The costs of new agents with an orphan drug status are very high as compared with those of capecitabine, a newer agent for which there are alternative treatment options. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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