Impact of Long-Acting Growth Factors on Practice Dynamics and Patient Satisfaction


Inova Fairfax Hospital, Fairfax Northern Virginia Hematology Oncology, PC, 8503 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22031; e-mail:


Objective. To quantify time expended, patient satisfaction, and econometrics associated with short-acting (sargramostim, epoetin alfa) and long-acting (darbepoetin alfa, pegfilgrastim) growth factors.

Design. Retrospective resource utilization and prospective two-phase observational study.

Methods. During week 1, time-motion measurements related to patient treatment and drug preparation were collected for scheduling; check-in; phlebotomy; laboratory; and drug preparation, administration, and recording. Drug utilization for one chemotherapy cycle during weeks 2 and 3 was assessed for sargramostim, pegfilgrastim, epoetin alfa, darbepoetin alfa, sargramostim plus epoetin alfa, and pegfilgrastim plus darbepoetin alfa. Patients completed a satisfaction survey.

Results. Among 140 patients (mean age 58 yrs), mean chemotherapy cycle duration was 19 days. A total of 268 events were observed. Mean total staff time/patient visit for drug administration was 22.1 minutes, with most time spent on scheduling (5.5 min) and drug preparation, administration, recording (5.2 min). For sargramostim only versus pegfilgrastim only, pegfilgrastim resulted in a 37% reduction (p<0.01) in all visits and an 85% reduction (p<0.01) in mean number of doses. For epoetin alfa only versus darbepoetin alfa only, darbepoetin alfa resulted in a 48% reduction (p<0.01) in mean number of doses. The most common dosage of epoetin alfa was 40,000 U/week (63.6%) and that of darbepoetin alfa was 200 μg every other week (92%), but complete blood counts were obtained weekly. For pegfilgrastim plus darbepoetin alfa versus sargramostim plus epoetin alfa, a 45% reduction (p<0.01) in total visits and a 77% reduction (p<0.01) in mean number of doses were noted in the former group. In 69 patients converted to long-acting drugs, 65 actual hours for a single treatment cycle were saved. For patients receiving pegfilgrastim plus darbepoetin alfa, there was a 45% reduction in total clinic visits, 77% reduction in doses, and staff time savings of 1.9 hours/patient/cycle of chemotherapy. Fifty-four patients completed the survey and trended toward neutral in their responses, with moderate disagreement that receiving injections is painful.

Conclusion. Long-acting growth factors resulted in significant time savings for staff and providers by reducing the number of necessary office visits for drug administration. These time savings can significantly improve the quality of life for patients, as well as nurses, physicians, and caregivers.