Background Oral cancer treatment has revolutionised the approach to the disease, as invasive procedures are no longer required, and patients can continue their daily life with practical and psychological benefits.
Purpose To cheque whether the packaging of Sutent (sunitinib), an oral cancer drug monitored by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA), dispensed by two District Pharmaceutical Units (UFD) of the Local Health Service (LHS) of Reggio Emilia, is suitable in terms of dosage units, to ensure coverage of the treatment plan prescribed to cancer patients. The marketing packaging authorised contains 30 capsules.
Materials and Methods From September 2007 to September 2012, patients included in this study were dispensed Sutent at least once. We used the record of oncology drugs monitored closely by AIFA to obtain information about patients:
number of prescriptions dispensed
dose/day prescribed (e.g. 50 mg);
total dose prescribed (e.g. 1400 mg);
total dose dispensed (e.g. 1500 mg);
The total dose of medicine prescribed, corresponding to one treatment cycle (i.e. 28 capsules) is less than the total dose of drug dispensed, corresponding to 30 capsules. For each cycle, there is a predictable surplus of 2 capsules.
Results More was paid than was necessary, for surplus Sutent, reported for 31 patients.
The overall cost of treatment provided in the study period was €492,278. The excess Sutent capsules represent 6.67% of the total cost of treatment, i.e. €32,819.
Conclusions In order to save money, it would help to dispense to the patient the exact number of dosage units required by the prescription.
This idea is supported by an analysis of the savings made for Xeloda. All patients received the exact number of dosage units in all UFD of the LHS of Reggio Emilia. From January 2010 to June 2012 savings were made by the Health Authority of €57,602.
No conflict of interest.
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