By: Andrew Yakubovich
A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal discusses a scenario far too common for people dealing with cancer – extremely high costs of treatment. The author, Peter Loftus, explains that NextSource Biotechnology has pulled out of a federal discount program for Medicare patients, resulting in a lack of coverage for its revolutionary brain cancer drug, Gleostine. As a result, Medicare patients will now have to pay out of pocket for Gleostine, one of the few chemotherapy agents approved for treatment of glioblastoma and other brain cancers. Gleostine has no generic alternative, meaning those who need it must pay as much as $1000 per capsule, leading to an additional $20,000 per year in bills for patients already facing exorbitant medical expenses
What does this Mean for Brain Cancer Patients?
“Brain-tumor specialists and patient-advocacy groups say NextSource’s decision is jeopardizing patients’ access to the drug… even with financial assistance available, patients face a hard time navigating the application process of obtaining the aid.”
According to Braintumor.org, brain cancer had the highest cost of care for any cancer group, with an annualized mean net cost of care approaching $150,000. Now, for patients who need Gleostine, this cost will increase dramatically – the cost of Gleostine alone is $2300 every six weeks.
Financial Relief Programs for Cancer Patients
As medical bills increase and more drugs are removed from federal discount programs, patients with cancer and other illnesses often face financial hardship, often referred to as financial toxicity.
“The term financial toxicity describes the total impact of the financial burden on patients with cancer and has been associated with bankruptcy, noncompliance to treatment, worsened outcomes, and increased mortality.” Patients increasingly identify financial distress as a substantial problem and view financial stress as a major factor impacting their quality of life.
Although, financial toxicity has been widely discussed and researched in recent years, there are unfortunately very few financial relief programs that help address this growing phenomenon.
One unique program that helps address large out of pocket expenses and financial toxicity is Fifth Season Financial’s Funds for Living Program. This program helps alleviate financial stressors by giving patients access to part of their life insurance benefit while still leaving funds for their loved ones. The funds are unrestricted and can be used for medical expenses, general expenses or to improve quality of life. The program works like a loan, with one’s life insurance policy serving as the only collateral that repays the loan.
Donna Kelley-Hall, a patient treated with Gleostine, says that if she could not afford the drug, “[She] would have been making choices between medicine and something else.”
With Fifth Season Financial, you may not have to make these difficult choices, and you will be able to focus on getting healthy instead of worrying about paying for the astronomical costs of life-saving medicine.
For more information, speak to a program coordinator by submitting the form on www.fifthseasonfinancial.com.
Phone #: Toll-free (866) 459-1271
Zafar SY, Peppercorn JM, Schrag D, et al: The financial toxicity of cancer treatment: A pilot study assessing out-of-pocket expenses and the insured cancer patient’s experience. Oncologist 18:381, 2013; Ramsey S, Blough D, Kirchhoff A, et al: Washington State cancer patients found to be at greater risk for bankruptcy than people without a cancer diagnosis. Health Aff 32:1143-1152, 2013; Doshi JA, Li P, Huo H, et al: Association of patient out-of-pocket costs with prescription abandonment and delay in fills of novel oral anticancer agents. J Clin Oncol 36:476-482, 2018; Knight TG, Deal AM, Dusetzina SB, et al: Financial toxicity in adults with cancer: Adverse outcomes and noncompliance. J Oncol Pract 10.1200/JOP.18.00120 [epub ahead of print on October 24, 2018; Bestvina CM, Zullig LL, Rushing C, et al: Patient-oncologist cost communication, financial distress, and medication adherence. J Oncol Pract 10:162-167, 2014; Weaver KE, Rowland JH, Bellizzi KM, et al: Forgoing medical care because of cost: Assessing disparities in healthcare access among cancer survivors living in the United States. Cancer 116:3493-3504, 2010.
 Zafar SY, Peppercorn JM, Schrag D, et al: The financial toxicity of cancer treatment: A pilot study assessing out-of-pocket expenses and the insured cancer patient’s experience. Oncologist 18:381, 2013; Ramsey S, Blough D, Kirchhoff A, et al: Washington State cancer patients found to be at greater risk for bankruptcy than people without a cancer diagnosis. Health Aff 32:1143-1152, 2013