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1.  Comparison of Pegfilgrastim Prescribing Practice to National Guidelines at a University Hospital Outpatient Oncology Clinic 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2012;9(4):203-206.
At one institution, approximately one half of primary prophylaxis pegfilgrastim was not indicated per published guidelines, highlighting a need to change prescribing practices, to reduce costs without harming patients.
Pegfilgrastim reduces the risk of febrile neutropenia (FN) and is indicated as primary prophylaxis when the risk of FN approaches 20% in each chemotherapy cycle. There have been few reports evaluating the appropriate use of pegfilgrastim in comparison with published guidelines. We sought to determine possible over-prescribing as a way to maintain quality and reduce cost.
A retrospective medical record review was performed to determine whether pegfilgrastim was used appropriately in the primary prophylaxis of FN in chemotherapy regimens with less than 20% risk of FN. Patients were identified by means of administrative records, and data were collected from the electronic medical record at an academic cancer center outpatient clinic serving approximately 13,000 patients per year.
Two hundred ninety-two patients were identified, of whom 124 were initially evaluated and 88 were included. Thirty-three patients (37%) had no risk factors, and 20 (22%) had one risk factor that would justify pegfilgrastim use with low- or intermediate-risk regimens. The most common cancer diagnosis of patients with zero or one risk factor was lymphoma, and the most common regimens with overuse of pegfilgrastim were doxorubicin-bleomycin-vinblastine-dacarbazine (ABVD) and ritux-imab-cyclophosphamide-doxorubicin-vincristine-prednisone (R-CHOP). One hundred eighty-four pegfilgrastim doses (46%) were classified as avoidable. The cost to the health system for unnecessary drug use was $712,264 in 1 year.
At one institution, approximately one half of all primary prophylaxis pegfilgrastim was not indicated per published guidelines. This represents an excellent opportunity to change prescribing practices to reduce costs without harming patients.
PMCID: PMC3710170  PMID: 23942922
2.  Pegfilgrastim prophylaxis is associated with a lower risk of hospitalization of cancer patients than filgrastim prophylaxis: a retrospective United States claims analysis of granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:11.
Myelosuppressive chemotherapy can lead to dose-limiting febrile neutropenia. Prophylactic use of recombinant human G-CSF such as daily filgrastim and once-per-cycle pegfilgrastim may reduce the incidence of febrile neutropenia. This comparative study examined the effect of pegfilgrastim versus daily filgrastim on the risk of hospitalization.
This retrospective United States claims analysis utilized 2004–2009 data for filgrastim- and pegfilgrastim-treated patients receiving chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) or breast, lung, ovarian, or colorectal cancers. Cycles in which pegfilgrastim or filgrastim was administered within 5 days from initiation of chemotherapy (considered to represent prophylaxis) were pooled for analysis. Neutropenia-related hospitalization and other healthcare encounters were defined with a “narrow” criterion for claims with an ICD-9 code for neutropenia and with a “broad” criterion for claims with an ICD-9 code for neutropenia, fever, or infection. Odds ratios (OR) for hospitalization and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by generalized estimating equation (GEE) models and adjusted for patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. Per-cycle healthcare utilization and costs were examined for cycles with pegfilgrastim or filgrastim prophylaxis.
We identified 3,535 patients receiving G-CSF prophylaxis, representing 12,056 chemotherapy cycles (11,683 pegfilgrastim, 373 filgrastim). The mean duration of filgrastim prophylaxis in the sample was 4.8 days. The mean duration of pegfilgrastim prophylaxis in the sample was 1.0 day, consistent with the recommended dosage of pegfilgrastim - a single injection once per chemotherapy cycle. Cycles with prophylactic pegfilgrastim were associated with a decreased risk of neutropenia-related hospitalization (narrow definition: OR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.16–1.13; broad definition: OR = 0.38, 95% CI: 0.24–0.59) and all-cause hospitalization (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.35–0.72) versus cycles with prophylactic filgrastim. For neutropenia-related utilization by setting of care, there were more ambulatory visits and hospitalizations per cycle associated with filgrastim prophylaxis than with pegfilgrastim prophylaxis. Mean per-cycle neutropenia-related costs were also higher with prophylactic filgrastim than with prophylactic pegfilgrastim.
In this comparative effectiveness study, pegfilgrastim prophylaxis was associated with a reduced risk of neutropenia-related or all-cause hospitalization relative to filgrastim prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC3559272  PMID: 23298389
3.  Countering the Misincentivization of Cancer Medicine by Real-Time Personal Professional Education 
In the United States, public and private payer misincentivization of medical care and the invisibility of costs to the consumers of that care have conspired to create unsustainable growth in health care expenditure that undermines our economy, diminishes our productivity, and limits our international competitiveness. Cancer medicine provides a small yet salient example. On average, Medicare reimburses oncologists 6% above the average acquisition price for essential anticancer agents and supportive therapies. The costs of these agents vary across a stunning five orders of magnitude, from a few dollars to more than $400,000 per course of treatment. The profitability to providers varies across approximately four orders of magnitude, from cents to thousands of dollars per treatment. National guidelines (National Comprehensive Cancer Network [NCCN], American Society of Clinical Oncology [ASCO]) help providers select the most effective therapies without regard for cost.
We created an oncologist-to-oncologist professional education program to help cancer physicians optimally use expensive long-acting white blood cell growth factors, in accordance with these national guidelines. We then compared their use across a population of approximately 97,000 Medicare members before and after our intervention. Baseline use was recorded over two consecutive quarters (2009 to 2010). In March 2010, our oncologists initiated real-time discussions with the oncologists of 22 separate groups if these agents were ordered for use with regimens that placed patients at less than 10% risk of febrile neutropenia, according to NCCN guidelines. Neither NCCN nor ASCO recommend the routine use of these agents in this low-risk group. The care of 82 such patients was thoroughly discussed in the following 6 months.
The monthly costs for these agents decreased by more than 50% by the final month of our intervention, although savings began immediately, reducing costs by more than $150,000 per quarter. No episode of febrile neutropenia was recorded in any patient in the intervention group. These savings generalize to the entire Medicare population at $30 million each month.
We conclude that personal, oncologist-to-oncologist, real-time professional education will favorably modify oncologic prescribing behavior and can do so with significant immediate savings at no risk to patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC3457828
4.  Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000352.
Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.
Pharmaceutical companies spent $57.5 billion on pharmaceutical promotion in the United States in 2004. The industry claims that promotion provides scientific and educational information to physicians. While some evidence indicates that promotion may adversely influence prescribing, physicians hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
Methods and Findings
We searched for studies of physicians with prescribing rights who were exposed to information from pharmaceutical companies (promotional or otherwise). Exposures included pharmaceutical sales representative visits, journal advertisements, attendance at pharmaceutical sponsored meetings, mailed information, prescribing software, and participation in sponsored clinical trials. The outcomes measured were quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing. We searched Medline (1966 to February 2008), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to February 2008), Embase (1997 to February 2008), Current Contents (2001 to 2008), and Central (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007) using the search terms developed with an expert librarian. Additionally, we reviewed reference lists and contacted experts and pharmaceutical companies for information. Randomized and observational studies evaluating information from pharmaceutical companies and measures of physicians' prescribing were independently appraised for methodological quality by two authors. Studies were excluded where insufficient study information precluded appraisal. The full text of 255 articles was retrieved from electronic databases (7,185 studies) and other sources (138 studies). Articles were then excluded because they did not fulfil inclusion criteria (179) or quality appraisal criteria (18), leaving 58 included studies with 87 distinct analyses. Data were extracted independently by two authors and a narrative synthesis performed following the MOOSE guidelines. Of the set of studies examining prescribing quality outcomes, five found associations between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and lower quality prescribing, four did not detect an association, and one found associations with lower and higher quality prescribing. 38 included studies found associations between exposure and higher frequency of prescribing and 13 did not detect an association. Five included studies found evidence for association with higher costs, four found no association, and one found an association with lower costs. The narrative synthesis finding of variable results was supported by a meta-analysis of studies of prescribing frequency that found significant heterogeneity. The observational nature of most included studies is the main limitation of this review.
With rare exceptions, studies of exposure to information provided directly by pharmaceutical companies have found associations with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality or have not found significant associations. We did not find evidence of net improvements in prescribing, but the available literature does not exclude the possibility that prescribing may sometimes be improved. Still, we recommend that practitioners follow the precautionary principle and thus avoid exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
A prescription drug is a medication that can be supplied only with a written instruction (“prescription”) from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional. In 2009, 3.9 billion drug prescriptions were dispensed in the US alone and US pharmaceutical companies made US$300 billion in sales revenue. Every year, a large proportion of this revenue is spent on drug promotion. In 2004, for example, a quarter of US drug revenue was spent on pharmaceutical promotion. The pharmaceutical industry claims that drug promotion—visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, advertisements in journals and prescribing software, sponsorship of meetings, mailed information—helps to inform and educate healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of their products and thereby ensures that patients receive the best possible care. Physicians, however, hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. Some see it as a useful and convenient source of information. Others deny that they are influenced by pharmaceutical company promotion but claim that it influences other physicians. Meanwhile, several professional organizations have called for tighter control of promotional activities because of fears that pharmaceutical promotion might encourage physicians to prescribe inappropriate or needlessly expensive drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
But is there any evidence that pharmaceutical promotion adversely influences prescribing? Reviews of the research literature undertaken in 2000 and 2005 provide some evidence that drug promotion influences prescribing behavior. However, these reviews only partly assessed the relationship between information from pharmaceutical companies and prescribing costs and quality and are now out of date. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to reexamine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies of licensed physicians who were exposed to promotional and other information from pharmaceutical companies. They identified 58 studies that included a measure of exposure to any type of information directly provided by pharmaceutical companies and a measure of physicians' prescribing behavior. They then undertook a “narrative synthesis,” a descriptive analysis of the data in these studies. Ten of the studies, they report, examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing quality (as judged, for example, by physician drug choices in response to clinical vignettes). All but one of these studies suggested that exposure to drug company information was associated with lower prescribing quality or no association was detected. In the 51 studies that examined the relationship between exposure to drug company information and prescribing frequency, exposure to information was associated with more frequent prescribing or no association was detected. Thus, for example, 17 out of 29 studies of the effect of pharmaceutical sales representatives' visits found an association between visits and increased prescribing; none found an association with less frequent prescribing. Finally, eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing costs. With one exception, these studies indicated that exposure to information was associated with a higher cost of prescribing or no association was detected. So, for example, one study found that physicians with low prescribing costs were more likely to have rarely or never read promotional mail or journal advertisements from pharmaceutical companies than physicians with high prescribing costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
With rare exceptions, these findings suggest that exposure to pharmaceutical company information is associated with either no effect on physicians' prescribing behavior or with adverse affects (reduced quality, increased frequency, or increased costs). Because most of the studies included in the review were observational studies—the physicians in the studies were not randomly selected to receive or not receive drug company information—it is not possible to conclude that exposure to information actually causes any changes in physician behavior. Furthermore, although these findings provide no evidence for any net improvement in prescribing after exposure to pharmaceutical company information, the researchers note that it would be wrong to conclude that improvements do not sometimes happen. The findings support the case for reforms to reduce negative influence to prescribing from pharmaceutical promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs and on pharmaceutical marketing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK General Medical Council provides guidelines on good practice in prescribing medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information on prescription drugs and on its Bad Ad Program
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
The Drug Promotion Database was developed by the World Health Organization Department of Essential Drugs & Medicines Policy and Health Action International Europe to address unethical and inappropriate drug promotion
PMCID: PMC2957394  PMID: 20976098
5.  A single dose of pegfilgrastim compared with daily filgrastim for supporting neutrophil recovery in patients treated for low-to-intermediate risk acute myeloid leukemia: results from a randomized, double-blind, phase 2 trial 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:195.
Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are often neutropenic as a result of their disease. Furthermore, these patients typically experience profound neutropenia following induction and/or consolidation chemotherapy and this may result in serious, potentially life-threatening, infection. This randomized, double-blind, phase 2 clinical trial compared the efficacy and tolerability of pegfilgrastim with filgrastim for assisting neutrophil recovery following induction and consolidation chemotherapy for de novo AML in patients with low-to-intermediate risk cytogenetics.
Patients (n = 84) received one or two courses of standard induction chemotherapy (idarubicin + cytarabine), followed by one course of consolidation therapy (high-dose cytarabine) if complete remission was achieved. They were randomized to receive either single-dose pegfilgrastim 6 mg or daily filgrastim 5 μg/kg, beginning 24 hours after induction and consolidation chemotherapy.
The median time to recovery from severe neutropenia was 22.0 days for both pegfilgrastim (n = 42) and filgrastim (n = 41) groups during Induction 1 (difference 0.0 days; 95% CI: -1.9 to 1.9). During Consolidation, recovery occurred after a median of 17.0 days for pegfilgrastim versus 16.5 days for filgrastim (difference 0.5 days; 95% CI: -1.1 to 2.1). Therapeutic pegfilgrastim serum concentrations were maintained throughout neutropenia. Pegfilgrastim was well tolerated, with an adverse event profile similar to that of filgrastim.
These data suggest no clinically meaningful difference between a single dose of pegfilgrastim and multiple daily doses of filgrastim for shortening the duration of severe neutropenia following chemotherapy in de novo AML patients with low-to-intermediate risk cytogenetics.
Trial registration NCT00114764
PMCID: PMC2483721  PMID: 18616811
6.  Efficacy and safety of lipegfilgrastim versus pegfilgrastim: a randomized, multicenter, active-control phase 3 trial in patients with breast cancer receiving doxorubicin/docetaxel chemotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:386.
Lipegfilgrastim is a novel glyco-pegylated granulocyte-colony stimulating factor in development for neutropenia prophylaxis in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. This phase III, double-blind, randomized, active-controlled, noninferiority trial compared the efficacy and safety of lipegfilgrastim versus pegfilgrastim in chemotherapy-naïve breast cancer patients receiving doxorubicin/docetaxel chemotherapy.
Patients with high-risk stage II, III, or IV breast cancer and an absolute neutrophil count ≥1.5 × 109 cells/L were randomized to a single 6-mg subcutaneous injection of lipegfilgrastim (n = 101) or pegfilgrastim (n = 101) on day 2 of each 21-day chemotherapy cycle (4 cycles maximum). The primary efficacy endpoint was the duration of severe neutropenia during cycle 1.
Cycle 1: The mean duration of severe neutropenia for the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups was 0.7 and 0.8 days, respectively (λ = −0.218 [95% confidence interval: –0.498%, 0.062%], p = 0.126), and no severe neutropenia was observed in 56% and 49% of patients in the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups, respectively. All cycles: In the efficacy population, febrile neutropenia occurred in three pegfilgrastim-treated patients (all in cycle 1) and zero lipegfilgrastim-treated patients. Drug-related adverse events in the safety population were reported in 28% and 26% of patients i006E the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups, respectively.
This study demonstrates that lipegfilgrastim 6 mg is as effective as pegfilgrastim in reducing neutropenia in patients with breast cancer receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy.
Trial Registration
Eudra EEACTA200901599910
The study protocol, two global amendments (Nos. 1 and 2), informed consent documents, and other appropriate study-related documents were reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Central Ethics Committee and local independent ethics committees (IECs).
PMCID: PMC3751756  PMID: 23945072
Neutropenia; Febrile neutropenia; Breast cancer; Recombinant granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; Lipegfilgrastim; Pegfilgrastim
7.  Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors for febrile neutropenia prophylaxis following chemotherapy: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:404.
Febrile neutropenia (FN) occurs following myelosuppressive chemotherapy and is associated with morbidity, mortality, costs, and chemotherapy reductions and delays. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSFs) stimulate neutrophil production and may reduce FN incidence when given prophylactically following chemotherapy.
A systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the effectiveness of G-CSFs (pegfilgrastim, filgrastim or lenograstim) in reducing FN incidence in adults undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumours or lymphoma. G-CSFs were compared with no primary G-CSF prophylaxis and with one another. Nine databases were searched in December 2009. Meta-analysis used a random effects model due to heterogeneity.
Twenty studies compared primary G-CSF prophylaxis with no primary G-CSF prophylaxis: five studies of pegfilgrastim; ten of filgrastim; and five of lenograstim. All three G-CSFs significantly reduced FN incidence, with relative risks of 0.30 (95% CI: 0.14 to 0.65) for pegfilgrastim, 0.57 (95% CI: 0.48 to 0.69) for filgrastim, and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.88) for lenograstim. Overall, the relative risk of FN for any primary G-CSF prophylaxis versus no primary G-CSF prophylaxis was 0.51 (95% CI: 0.41 to 0.62). In terms of comparisons between different G-CSFs, five studies compared pegfilgrastim with filgrastim. FN incidence was significantly lower for pegfilgrastim than filgrastim, with a relative risk of 0.66 (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.98).
Primary prophylaxis with G-CSFs significantly reduces FN incidence in adults undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumours or lymphoma. Pegfilgrastim reduces FN incidence to a significantly greater extent than filgrastim.
PMCID: PMC3203098  PMID: 21943360
8.  Effects of pegylated G-CSF on immune cell number and function in patients with gynecological malignancies 
Pegylated granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF; pegfilgrastim) is a longer-acting form of G-CSF, whose effects on dendritic cell (DC) and regulatory T cell (Treg) mobilization, and on the in vivo and ex vivo release of immune modulating cytokines remain unexplored.
Twelve patients with gynecological cancers received carboplatin/paclitaxel chemotherapy and single-dose pegfilgrastim as prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia. Peripheral blood was collected prior to pegfilgrastim administration (day 0) and on days +7, +11 and +21, to quantify immunoregulatory cytokines and to assess type 1 DC (DC1), type 2 DC (DC2) and Treg cell mobilization. In vitro-differentiated, monocyte-derived DC were used to investigate endocytic activity, expression of DC maturation antigens and ability to activate allogeneic T-cell proliferation.
Pegfilgrastim increased the frequency of circulating DC1 and DC2 precursors. In contrast, CD4+FoxP3+ bona fide Treg cells were unchanged compared with baseline. Serum levels of hepatocyte growth factor and interleukin (IL)-12p40, but not transforming growth factor-β1 or immune suppressive kynurenines, significantly increased after pegfilgrastim administration. Interestingly, pegfilgrastim fostered in vitro monocytic secretion of IL-12p40 and IL-12p70 when compared with unconjugated G-CSF. Finally, DC populations differentiated in vitro after clinical provision of pegfilgrastim were phenotypically mature, possessed low endocytic activity, and incited a robust T-cell proliferative response.
Pegfilgrastim induced significant changes in immune cell number and function. The enhancement of monocytic IL-12 secretion portends favorable implications for pegfilgrastim administration to patients with cancer, a clinical context where the induction of immune deviation would be highly undesirable.
PMCID: PMC2992497  PMID: 21062439
9.  Randomized trial and pharmacokinetic study of pegfilgrastim vs. filgrastim after dose-intensive chemotherapy in young adults and children with sarcomas 
To compare the effectiveness, tolerance and pharmacokinetics of a single dose of pegfilgrastim to daily filgrastim in children and young adults with sarcomas treated with dose-intensive combination chemotherapy.
Experimental Design
Patients were randomized to receive a single dose of 100 mcg/kg of pegfilgrastim subcutaneously or 5 mcg/kg/day of filgrastim subcutaneously, daily until neutrophil recovery after 2 treatment cycles with vincristine, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide (VDC) and 2 cycles of etoposide and ifosfamide (IE). The duration of severe neutropenia (ANC ≤500/mcL) during cycles 1–4 and cycle duration for all cycles were compared. Pharmacokinetics of pegfilgrastim and filgrastim and CD34+ stem cell mobilization were studied on cycle 1. Growth factor related toxicity, transfusions, and episodes of fever and neutropenia and infections were collected for cycles 1–4.
Thirty-four patients (median age 20 years, range 3.8–25.8) were enrolled, 32 completed cycles 1–4. The median (range) duration of ANC<500/mcL was 5.5 (3–8) days for pegfilgrastim and 6 (0–9) days for filgrastim (p= 0.76) after VDC, and 1.5 (0–4) days for pegfilgrastim and 3.75 (0–6.5) days for filgrastim (p=0.11) after IE. More episodes of febrile neutropenia and documented infections occurred on the filgrastim arm. Serum pegfilgrastim concentrations were highly variable. Pegfilgrastim apparent clearance (11 ml/h/kg) was similar to that reported in adults.
A single dose per cycle of pegfilgrastim was well tolerated and may be as effective as daily filgrastim based on the duration of severe neutropenia and number of episodes of febrile neutropenia and documented infections after dose-intensive treatment with VDC and IE.
PMCID: PMC2787766  PMID: 19920107
10.  Pegfilgrastim and daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factor: patterns of use and neutropenia-related outcomes in cancer patients in Spain – results of the LEARN Study 
European Journal of Cancer Care  2009;18(3):280-286.
Daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factors [(G-CSFs); e.g. filgrastim, lenograstim] are frequently used to reduce the duration of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) and the incidence of febrile neutropenia (FN) in cancer patients. A pegylated formulation of filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, which is administered once per cycle, was introduced in Spain in 2003. LEARN was a multi-centre, retrospective, observational study in Spain comparing patterns of use of daily G-CSF and pegfilgrastim, and CIN-related outcomes in adults with non-myeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy. Outcome measures were the percentage of patients receiving G-CSF for primary prophylaxis versus secondary prophylaxis/treatment, duration of treatment with G-CSF and incidence of CIN-related complications. Medical records from consecutive patients with documented pegfilgrastim (n = 75) or daily G-CSF (n = 111) use during 2003 were included. The proportion of patients receiving primary or secondary prophylaxis was comparable between the pegfilgrastim (39 and 48% respectively) and daily G-CSF (40 and 48% respectively) groups. However, there was a trend towards less frequent use to treat a neutropenic event such as FN or neutropenia in the pegfilgrastim group (17 versus 30% with daily G-CSF). Chemotherapy-induced neutropenia-related complications were less frequent in patients receiving pegfilgrastim (e.g. FN 11 versus 24% with daily G-CSF). This is the first study to show the potential benefits of pegfilgrastim over daily G-CSF in Spanish clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2702003  PMID: 19076208
pegfilgrastim; G-CSF; pattern of use; neutropenia; febrile neutropenia
11.  Effectiveness of daily versus non-daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factors in patients with solid tumours undergoing chemotherapy: a multivariate analysis of data from current practice 
European Journal of Cancer Care  2013;22(3):400-412.
We conducted a multicentre, retrospective, observational study including patients with solid tumours (excluding breast cancer) that received granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) and chemotherapy. We investigated the effectiveness of daily vs. non-daily G-CSFs (pegfilgrastim) adjusting by potential confounders. The study included 391 patients (211 daily G-CSF; 180 pegfilgrastim), from whom 47.3% received primary prophylaxis (PP) (57.8% pegfilgrastim), 26.3% secondary prophylaxis (SP: initiation after cycle 1 and no reactive treatment in any cycle) (51.5% pegfilgrastim) and 26.3% reactive treatment (19.4% pegfilgrastim). Only 42.2% of patients with daily G-CSF and 46.2% with pegfilgrastim initiated prophylaxis within 72 h after chemotherapy, and only 10.5% of patients with daily G-CSF received it for ≥7 days. In the multivariate models, daily G-CSF was associated with higher risk of grade 3-4 neutropenia (G3-4N) vs. pegfilgrastim [odds ratio (OR): 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.004–2.97]. Relative to SP, PP protected against G3-4N (OR for SP vs. PP: 6.0, 95%CI: 3.2–11.4) and febrile neutropenia (OR: 3.1, 95%CI: 1.1–8.8), and was associated to less chemotherapy dose delays and reductions (OR for relative dose intensity <85% for SP vs. PP: 3.1, 95%CI: 1.7–5.4) and higher response rate (OR: 2.1, 95%CI: 1.2–3.7). Data suggest that pegfilgrastim, compared with a daily G-CSF, and PP, compared with SP, could be more effective in preventing neutropenia and its related events in the clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3655543  PMID: 23331323
neutropenia; granulocyte-colony stimulating factors; multi-cycle chemotherapy; pegfilgrastim; filgrastim; lenograstim
12.  Women's Access and Provider Practices for the Case Management of Malaria during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001688.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of women’s access and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case-management policy of malaria during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and quinine plus clindamycin for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the first trimester and artemisinin-based combination therapies in subsequent trimesters. We undertook a systematic review of women's access to and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case management policy for malaria in pregnant women.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, the Global Health Database, and the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs Bibliography from 1 January 2006 to 3 April 2014, without language restriction. Data were appraised for quality and content. Frequencies of women's and healthcare providers' practices were explored using narrative synthesis and random effect meta-analysis. Barriers to women's access and providers' adherence to policy were explored by content analysis using NVivo. Determinants of women's access and providers' case management practices were extracted and compared across studies. We did not perform a meta-ethnography. Thirty-seven studies were included, conducted in Africa (30), Asia (4), Yemen (1), and Brazil (2). One- to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy, of whom treatment was sought by >85%. Barriers to access among women included poor knowledge of drug safety, prohibitive costs, and self-treatment practices, used by 5%–40% of women. Determinants of women's treatment-seeking behaviour were education and previous experience of miscarriage and antenatal care. Healthcare provider reliance on clinical diagnosis and poor adherence to treatment policy, especially in first versus other trimesters (28%, 95% CI 14%–47%, versus 72%, 95% CI 39%–91%, p = 0.02), was consistently reported. Prescribing practices were driven by concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost. Determinants of provider practices were access to training and facility type (public versus private). Findings were limited by the availability, quality, scope, and methodological inconsistencies of the included studies.
A systematic assessment of the extent of substandard case management practices of malaria in pregnancy is required, as well as quality improvement interventions that reach all providers administering antimalarial drugs in the community. Pregnant women need access to information on which anti-malarial drugs are safe to use at different stages of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and preterm births, and kills about 10,000 women and 100,000 children each year. Since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that uncomplicated malaria (an infection that causes a fever but does not involve organ damage or severe anemia) should be treated with quinine and clindamycin if it occurs during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy and with an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) if it occurs during the second or third trimester; ACTs should be used during the first trimester only if no other treatment is immediately available because their safety during early pregnancy has not been established. Since 2010, WHO has also recommended that clinical diagnosis of malaria should be confirmed before treatment by looking for parasites in patients' blood (parasitology).
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy in regions where malaria is always present (endemic regions) is extremely important, yet little is known about women's access to the recommended interventions for malaria in pregnancy or about healthcare providers' adherence to the WHO case management guidelines. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect women's access to treatment and healthcare provider practices for case management of malaria during pregnancy. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as reasons for refusing an intervention, whereas a qualitative study collects numerical data such as the proportion of a population receiving an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 studies (mostly conducted in Africa) that provided data on the range of healthcare providers visited, antimalarials used, and the factors influencing the choice of healthcare provider and medicines among pregnant women seeking treatment for malaria and/or the type and quality of diagnostic and case management services offered to them by healthcare providers. The researchers explored the data in these studies using narrative synthesis (which summarizes the results from several qualitative studies) and content analysis (which identifies key themes within texts). Among the studies that provided relevant data, one-quarter to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy. More than 85% of the women who reported a malaria episode during pregnancy sought some form of treatment. Barriers to access to WHO-recommended treatment among women included poor knowledge about drug safety, and the use of self-treatment practices such as taking herbal remedies. Factors that affected the treatment-seeking behavior of pregnant women (“determinants”) included prior use of antenatal care, education, and previous experience of a miscarriage. Among healthcare providers, reliance on clinical diagnosis of malaria was consistently reported, as was poor adherence to the treatment policy. Specifically, 28% and 72% of healthcare providers followed the treatment guidelines for malaria during the first and second/third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively. Finally, the researchers report that concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost drove the prescribing practices of the healthcare providers, and that the determinants of provider practices included the type (cadre) of heathcare worker, access to training, and whether they were based in a public or private facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal important limitations in the implementation of the WHO policy on the treatment of malaria in pregnancy across many parts of Africa and in several other malaria endemic regions. Notably, they show that women do not uniformly seek care within the formal healthcare system and suggest that, when they do seek care, they may not be given the appropriate treatment because healthcare providers frequently fail to adhere to the WHO diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Although limited by the sparseness of data and by inconsistencies in study methodologies, these findings nevertheless highlight the need for further systematic assessments of the extent of substandard case management of malaria in pregnancy in malaria endemic countries, and the need to develop interventions to improve access to and delivery of quality case management of malaria among pregnant women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; the 2010 Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria are available; the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and provides links to the consortium's publications and an online library on malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720
13.  Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor use in a large British hospital: comparison with published experience 
Pharmacy Practice  2010;8(4):213-219.
Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) are high-cost agents recommended as prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia or as adjunctive treatment of severe neutropenic sepsis. Their use in high-risk situations such as acute myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphocytic leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and stem cell transplantation is also indicated.
This audit assessed the use of G-CSF within the Oncology and Haematology Service Delivery Unit at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital (London, United Kingdom).
Patients who received G-CSF in April-May 2008 were identified retrospectively from the pharmacy labelling system, and chemotherapy front sheets, clinic letters and transplantation protocols were reviewed. Patients on lenograstim, in clinical trials or under non-approved chemotherapy protocols were excluded.
A total of 104 G-CSF treatments were assessed. The most commonly treated malignancy was breast cancer (41.3%), with docetaxel 100 mg/m 2 (34.6%) being the most frequent chemotherapy regimen. The chemotherapy intent was curative in 66.3 % of cases. Pegfilgrastim was used in 73.1 % of cases and primary prophylaxis was the most common indication (54.8%). Stem cell transplantation was the first indication to meet the audit criterion (93.3%), followed by primary prophylaxis (89.5%). There was a considerable nonadherence for secondary prophylaxis (6.7%).
The overall level of compliance with the audit criteria was 72.1%. The results for primary and secondary prophylaxis would have been different if FEC100 (fluorouracil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide) and docetaxel 100 mg/m 2 had been considered a single chemotherapy regimen. Also, the lack of access to medical notes may have affected the reliability of the results for ‘therapeutic’ use.
PMCID: PMC4127058  PMID: 25126143
Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors; Neutropenia; Clinical Audit; Drug Utilization Review; United Kingdom
14.  Lessons from the Leucovorin Shortages Between 2009 and 2012 in a Medicare Advantage Population: Where Do We Go from Here? 
American Health & Drug Benefits  2014;7(5):264-270.
Three distinct shortages of the generic drug leucovorin, a reduced form of folic acid used in several chemotherapy regimens, were reported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2008 and 2014. Levoleucovorin, an alternative therapy to leucovorin, failed to demonstrate superiority over leucovorin in clinical trials and is substantially more expensive.
To calculate the impact of the leucovorin shortages on primary treatment costs to patients and a health plan, and to present strategies for health plans to deal with future drug shortages.
This retrospective descriptive study was conducted using Humana's Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan administrative claims database between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012. A total of 1542 patients with at least 1 medical or pharmacy claim for either leucovorin or levoleucovorin during the first 3 months of the respective plan year (between 2009 and 2012) who had continuous enrollment for the entirety of the same plan year, were included in this study. Trends in primary treatment costs—defined as the drug cost of leucovorin or levoleucovorin—over the 4-year evaluation period were assessed. The mean annual patient out-of-pocket (OOP) costs and the mean plan-paid per member per month (PMPM) costs were also calculated.
The percentage of patients receiving leucovorin decreased annually, with a 15.8% drop from 2010 to 2011. This reduction was accompanied by a 6.6% increase in patients receiving levoleucovorin. The mean annual patient OOP costs were $167 to $714 higher for levoleucovorin than for leucovorin. Similarly, the mean plan-paid PMPM costs were higher (up to $1667 PMPM) for levoleucovorin than for leucovorin. The aggregate costs for the 2 drugs increased steadily, including the patient OOP costs and the plan-paid PMPM costs. The most prominent cost increase occurred between 2010 and 2011, with a 3.8-fold increase in patient OOP costs and a 5-fold increase in the plan-paid PMPM costs. This corresponded to the timing of the second leucovorin shortage announcement by the FDA in June 2010.
Health plans can play an important role in minimizing the impact of drug shortages by identifying the affected patient population, identifying therapeutic alternatives, assisting providers with alternative sourcing strategies when possible, adjusting approval processes, and implementing quality management or pathway programs.
PMCID: PMC4163778  PMID: 25237422
15.  Uptake and Economic Impact of First-Cycle Colony-Stimulating Factor Use During Adjuvant Treatment of Breast Cancer  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(8):806-812.
In 2002, pegfilgrastim was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the benefits of dose-dense breast cancer chemotherapy, especially for hormone receptor (HR) –negative tumors, were reported. We examined first-cycle colony-stimulating factor use (FC-CSF) before and after 2002 and estimated US expenditures for dose-dense chemotherapy.
We identified patients in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare greater than 65 years old with stages I to III breast cancer who had greater than one chemotherapy claim within 6 months of diagnosis(1998 to 2005) and classified patients with an average cycle length less than 21 days as having received dose-dense chemotherapy. The associations of patient, tumor, and physician-related factors with the receipt of any colony-stimulating factor (CSF) and FC-CSF use were analyzed by using generalized estimating equations. CSF costs were estimated for patients who were undergoing dose-dense chemotherapy.
Among the 10,773 patients identified, 5,266 patients (48.9%) had a CSF claim. CSF use was stable between 1998 and 2002 and increased from 36.8% to 73.7% between 2002 and 2005, FC-CSF use increased from 13.2% to 67.9%, and pegfilgrastim use increased from 4.1% to 83.6%. In a multivariable analysis, CSF use was associated with age and chemotherapy type and negatively associated with black/Hispanic race, rural residence, and shorter chemotherapy duration. FC-CSF use was associated with high socioeconomic status but not with age or race/ethnicity. The US annual CSF expenditure for women with HR-positive tumors treated with dose-dense chemotherapy is estimated to be $38.8 million.
A rapid increase in FC-CSF use occurred over a short period of time, which was likely a result of the reported benefits of dose-dense chemotherapy and the ease of pegfilgrastim administration. Because of the increasing evidence that elderly HR-positive patients do not benefit from dose-dense chemotherapy, limiting pegfilgrastim use would combat the increasing costs of cancer care.
PMCID: PMC3295569  PMID: 22312106
16.  Pegfilgrastim on the Same Day Versus Next Day of Chemotherapy in Patients With Breast Cancer, Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Results of Four Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized Phase II Studies 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2010;6(3):133-140.
Four tumor-specific studies were designed to assess the safety and efficacy of pegfilgrastim administered concurrently with chemotherapy.
To compare data on severe (grade 4) neutropenia duration and febrile neutropenia incidence in patients receiving chemotherapy with pegfilgrastim administered the same day or 24 hours after chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods:
These were similar, randomized, double-blind phase II noninferiority studies of patients with lymphoma or non–small-cell lung (NSCLC), breast, or ovarian cancer. Each study was analyzed separately. The primary end point in each study was cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration. Approximately 90 patients per study were to be randomly assigned at a ratio of 1:1 to receive pegfilgrastim 6 mg once per cycle on the day of chemotherapy or the day after (with placebo on the alternate day).
In four studies, 272 patients received chemotherapy and one or more doses of pegfilgrastim (133 same day, 139 next day). Three studies (breast, lymphoma, NSCLC) enrolled an adequate number of patients for analysis. However, in the NSCLC study, the neutropenic rate was lower than expected (only two patients per arm experienced grade 4 neutropenia). In the breast cancer study, the mean cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration was 1.2 days (95% confidence limit [CL], 0.7 to 1.6) longer in the same-day compared with the next-day group (mean, 2.6 v 1.4 days). In the lymphoma study, the mean cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration was 0.9 days (95% CL, 0.3 to 1.4) longer in the same-day compared with the next-day group (mean, 2.1 v 1.2 days). In the breast and lymphoma studies, the absolute neutrophil count profile for same-day patients was earlier, deeper, and longer compared with that for next-day patients, although the results indicate that same-day administration was statistically noninferior to next-day administration according to neutropenia duration.
For patients receiving pegfilgrastim with chemotherapy, pegfilgrastim administered 24 hours after chemotherapy completion is recommended.
PMCID: PMC2868638  PMID: 20808556
17.  Canadian supportive care recommendations for the management of neutropenia in patients with cancer 
Current Oncology  2008;15(1):9-23.
Hematologic toxicities of cancer chemotherapy are common and often limit the ability to provide treatment in a timely and dose-intensive manner. These limitations may be of utmost importance in the adjuvant and curative intent settings. Hematologic toxicities may result in febrile neutropenia, infections, fatigue, and bleeding, all of which may lead to additional complications and prolonged hospitalization. The older cancer patient and patients with significant comorbidities may be at highest risk of neutropenic complications. Colony-stimulating factors (csfs) such as filgrastim and pegfilgrastim can effectively attenuate most of the neutropenic consequences of chemotherapy, improve the ability to continue chemotherapy on the planned schedule, and minimize the risk of febrile neutropenia and infectious morbidity and mortality. The present consensus statement reviews the use of csfs in the management of neutropenia in patients with cancer and sets out specific recommendations based on published international guidelines tailored to the specifics of the Canadian practice landscape. We review existing international guidelines, the indications for primary and secondary prophylaxis, the importance of maintaining dose intensity, and the use of csfs in leukemia, stem-cell transplantation, and radiotherapy. Specific disease-related recommendations are provided related to breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Finally, csf dosing and schedules, duration of therapy, and associated acute and potential chronic toxicities are examined.
PMCID: PMC2259432  PMID: 18317581
Canadian recommendations; neutropenia; febrile neutropenia; supportive care; colony-stimulating factors; chemotherapy-induced neutropenia; safety
18.  Prevention of Pegfilgrastim-Induced Bone Pain: A Phase III Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial of the University of Rochester Cancer Center Clinical Community Oncology Program Research Base 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(16):1974-1979.
Pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain is a significant clinical problem that may result in discontinuation of pegfilgrastim and lead to less effective chemotherapy dosing. Interventions for pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain are needed.
Patients and Methods
The University of Rochester Cancer Center Clinical Community Oncology Program Research Base randomly assigned 510 patients at 17 sites to receive either naproxen (500 mg two times per day) or placebo on the day of pegfilgrastim administration, continuing for 5 to 8 days after pegfilgrastim. Patients recorded pain severity (using a scale of 0 to 10) and duration in daily diaries. The primary outcome measure was the area under the curve (AUC) for pain for days 1 through 5. Secondary outcome measures included the identification of risk factors for the development of pain and response to naproxen.
Patients' mean age was 55.6 years and 86% were female. Sixty-eight percent of patients had breast cancer and 10% had lung cancer. Pain reached its peak at 3 days for both groups. The mean AUC for pain was 7.71 for the placebo group and 6.04 for the naproxen group (P = .037). Naproxen reduced maximum pain from 3.40 to 2.59 (P = .005). Naproxen also reduced overall pain incidence from 71.3% to 61.1% (P = .020) and duration from 2.40 to 1.92 days (P = .009). The reduction in severe pain (> 5 on a scale of 1 to 10) from 27.0% to 19.2% was also significant (P = .048). Risk factors could not be identified to predict incidence, severity, or ability to prevent pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain.
Our phase III randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial demonstrated that naproxen at a dose of 500 mg twice per day is effective in reducing the incidence and severity of pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain.
PMCID: PMC3383174  PMID: 22508813
19.  Medical visits for chemotherapy and chemotherapy-induced neutropenia: a survey of the impact on patient time and activities 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:22.
Patients with cancer must make frequent visits to the clinic not only for chemotherapy but also for the management of treatment-related adverse effects. Neutropenia, the most common dose-limiting toxicity of myelosuppressive chemotherapy, has substantial clinical and economic consequences. Colony-stimulating factors such as filgrastim and pegfilgrastim can reduce the incidence of neutropenia, but the clinic visits for these treatments can disrupt patients' routines and activities.
We surveyed patients to assess how clinic visits for treatment with chemotherapy and the management of neutropenia affect their time and activities.
The mean amounts of time affected by these visits ranged from approximately 109 hours (hospitalization for neutropenia) and 8 hours (physician and chemotherapy) to less than 3 hours (laboratory and treatment with filgrastim or pegfilgrastim). The visits for filgrastim or pegfilgrastim were comparable in length, but treatment with filgrastim requires several visits per chemotherapy cycle and treatment with pegfilgrastim requires only 1 visit.
This study provides useful information for future modelling of additional factors such as disease status and chemotherapy schedule and provides information that should be considered in managing chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.
PMCID: PMC420468  PMID: 15153249
20.  A Phase 1 Study of Everolimus Plus Docetaxel Plus Cisplatin as Induction Chemotherapy for Patients With Locally and/or Regionally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer 
Cancer  2013;119(10):1823-1831.
Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is common in head and neck cancers, and it has been demonstrated that inhibition of mTOR complex 1 sensitizes cell lines to platinum and taxane chemotherapy. The authors conducted a phase 1 study to evaluate the addition of oral everolimus to cisplatin and docetaxel as induction chemotherapy for head and neck cancer.
In this single-institution phase 1 study, 3 doses of daily everolimus were explored: 5 mg daily, 7.5 mg daily (administered as 5 mg daily alternating with 10 mg daily), and 10 mg daily of each 21-day cycle. Cisplatin and docetaxel doses were fixed (both were 75 mg/m2 on day 1 of 21-day cycle) at each dose level with pegfilgrastim support. A standard 3 + 3 dose-escalation plan was used. After induction, patients were removed from protocol.
Eighteen patients were enrolled (15 men, 3 women), and their median Karnofsky performance status was 90. The most common toxicities were hyperglycemia, low hemoglobin, fatigue, and thrombocytopenia. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were neutropenic fever (1 event at dose level 2, 2 events at dose level 3), and all patients recovered fully from these DLTs. The maximum tolerated dose was exceeded at dose level 3. The progression-free survival rate at 1 year was 87.5% (95% confidence interval, 56.8%–96.7%); and, at 2 years, it was 76.6% (95% confidence interval, 41.2%–92.3%). Activating PI3K catalytic subunit α (PIK3CA) gene mutations were identified in 2 human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancers.
The phase 2 recommended dose was 7.5 mg daily for everolimus plus cisplatin and docetaxel (both at 75 mg/m2 on day 1 of a 21-day cycle) given with pegfilgrastim support.
PMCID: PMC3969235  PMID: 23408298
phase 1; everolimus; induction; neck; squamous
21.  A phase II study evaluating neo-/adjuvant EIA chemotherapy, surgical resection and radiotherapy in high-risk soft tissue sarcoma 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:510.
The role of chemotherapy in high-risk soft tissue sarcoma is controversial. Though many patients undergo initial curative resection, distant metastasis is a frequent event, resulting in 5-year overall survival rates of only 50-60%. Neo-adjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy (CTX) has been applied to achieve pre-operative cytoreduction, assess chemosensitivity, and to eliminate occult metastasis. Here we report on the results of our non-randomized phase II study on neo-adjuvant treatment for high-risk STS.
Patients with potentially curative high-risk STS (size ≥ 5 cm, deep/extracompartimental localization, tumor grades II-III [FNCLCC]) were included. The protocol comprised 4 cycles of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (EIA, etoposide 125 mg/m2 iv days 1 and 4, ifosfamide 1500 mg/m2 iv days 1 - 4, doxorubicin 50 mg/m2 day 1, pegfilgrastim 6 mg sc day 5), definitive surgery with intra-operative radiotherapy, adjuvant radiotherapy and 4 adjuvant cycles of EIA.
Between 06/2005 and 03/2010 a total of 50 subjects (male = 33, female = 17, median age 50.1 years) were enrolled. Median follow-up was 30.5 months. The majority of primary tumors were located in the extremities or trunk (92%), 6% originated in the abdomen/retroperitoneum. Response by RECIST criteria to neo-adjuvant CTX was 6% CR (n = 3), 24% PR (n = 12), 62% SD (n = 31) and 8% PD (n = 4). Local recurrence occurred in 3 subjects (6%). Distant metastasis was observed in 12 patients (24%). Overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) at 2 years was 83% and 68%, respectively. Multivariate analysis failed to prove influence of resection status or grade of histological necrosis on OS or DFS. Severe toxicities included neutropenic fever (4/50), cardiac toxicity (2/50), and CNS toxicity (4/50) leading to CTX dose reductions in 4 subjects. No cases of secondary leukemias were observed so far.
The current protocol is feasible for achieving local control rates, as well as OS and DFS comparable to previously published data on neo-/adjuvant chemotherapy in this setting. However, the definitive role of chemotherapy remains unclear in the absence of large, randomized trials. Therefore, the current regimen can only be recommended within a clinical study, and a possibly increased risk of secondary leukemias has to be taken into account.
Trial registration NCT01382030, EudraCT 2004-002501-72
PMCID: PMC3248452  PMID: 22152120
22.  Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing for Celiac Disease in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Objective of Analysis
The objective of this evidence-based evaluation is to assess the accuracy of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease. Furthermore the impact of these tests in the diagnostic pathway of the disease and decision making was also evaluated.
Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that develops in genetically predisposed individuals. The immunological response is triggered by ingestion of gluten, a protein that is present in wheat, rye, and barley. The treatment consists of strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD).
Patients with celiac disease may present with a myriad of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, iron deficiency anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis, among others.
Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis Celiac Disease
There are a number of serologic tests used in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibodies (DGP)
Serologic tests are automated with the exception of the EMA test, which is more time-consuming and operator-dependent than the other tests. For each serologic test, both immunoglobulin A (IgA) or G (IgG) can be measured, however, IgA measurement is the standard antibody measured in celiac disease.
Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
According to celiac disease guidelines, the diagnosis of celiac disease is established by small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests are used to initially detect and to support the diagnosis of celiac disease. A small bowel biopsy is indicated in individuals with a positive serologic test. In some cases an endoscopy and small bowel biopsy may be required even with a negative serologic test. The diagnosis of celiac disease must be performed on a gluten-containing diet since the small intestine abnormalities and the serologic antibody levels may resolve or improve on a GFD.
Since IgA measurement is the standard for the serologic celiac disease tests, false negatives may occur in IgA-deficient individuals.
Incidence and Prevalence of Celiac Disease
The incidence and prevalence of celiac disease in the general population and in subjects with symptoms consistent with or at higher risk of celiac disease based on systematic reviews published in 2004 and 2009 are summarized below.
Incidence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
Adults or mixed population: 1 to 17/100,000/year
Children: 2 to 51/100,000/year
In one of the studies, a stratified analysis showed that there was a higher incidence of celiac disease in younger children compared to older children, i.e., 51 cases/100,000/year in 0 to 2 year-olds, 33/100,000/year in 2 to 5 year-olds, and 10/100,000/year in children 5 to 15 years old.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in the General Population
The prevalence of celiac disease reported in population-based studies identified in the 2004 systematic review varied between 0.14% and 1.87% (median: 0.47%, interquartile range: 0.25%, 0.71%). According to the authors of the review, the prevalence did not vary by age group, i.e., adults and children.
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in High Risk Subjects
Type 1 diabetes (adults and children): 1 to 11%
Autoimmune thyroid disease: 2.9 to 3.3%
First degree relatives of patients with celiac disease: 2 to 20%
Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Subjects with Symptoms Consistent with the Disease
The prevalence of celiac disease in subjects with symptoms consistent with the disease varied widely among studies, i.e., 1.5% to 50% in adult studies, and 1.1% to 17% in pediatric studies. Differences in prevalence may be related to the referral pattern as the authors of a systematic review noted that the prevalence tended to be higher in studies whose population originated from tertiary referral centres compared to general practice.
Research Questions
What is the sensitivity and specificity of serologic tests in the diagnosis celiac disease?
What is the clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical validity was defined as the ability of the test to change diagnosis.
What is the clinical utility of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease? The clinical utility was defined as the impact of the test on decision making.
What is the budget impact of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
What is the cost-effectiveness of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on November 13th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1st 2003 and November 13th 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic accuracy, i.e., both sensitivity and specificity of serology tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease.
Study population consisted of untreated patients with symptoms consistent with celiac disease.
Studies in which both serologic celiac disease tests and small bowel biopsy (gold standard) were used in all subjects.
Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, prospective observational studies, and retrospective cohort studies.
At least 20 subjects included in the celiac disease group.
English language.
Human studies.
Studies published from 2000 on.
Clearly defined cut-off value for the serology test. If more than one test was evaluated, only those tests for which a cut-off was provided were included.
Description of small bowel biopsy procedure clearly outlined (location, number of biopsies per patient), unless if specified that celiac disease diagnosis guidelines were followed.
Patients in the treatment group had untreated CD.
Studies on screening of the general asymptomatic population.
Studies that evaluated rapid diagnostic kits for use either at home or in physician’s offices.
Studies that evaluated diagnostic modalities other than serologic tests such as capsule endoscopy, push enteroscopy, or genetic testing.
Cut-off for serologic tests defined based on controls included in the study.
Study population defined based on positive serology or subjects pre-screened by serology tests.
Celiac disease status known before study enrolment.
Sensitivity or specificity estimates based on repeated testing for the same subject.
Non-peer-reviewed literature such as editorials and letters to the editor.
The population consisted of adults and children with untreated, undiagnosed celiac disease with symptoms consistent with the disease.
Serologic Celiac Disease Tests Evaluated
Anti-gliadin antibody (AGA)
Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA)
Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG)
Anti-deamidated gliadin peptides antibody (DGP)
Combinations of some of the serologic tests listed above were evaluated in some studies
Both IgA and IgG antibodies were evaluated for the serologic tests listed above.
Outcomes of Interest
Positive and negative likelihood ratios
Diagnostic odds ratio (OR)
Area under the sROC curve (AUC)
Small bowel biopsy was used as the gold standard in order to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of each serologic test.
Statistical Analysis
Pooled estimates of sensitivity, specificity and diagnostic odds ratios (DORs) for the different serologic tests were calculated using a bivariate, binomial generalized linear mixed model. Statistical significance for differences in sensitivity and specificity between serologic tests was defined by P values less than 0.05, where “false discovery rate” adjustments were made for multiple hypothesis testing. The bivariate regression analyses were performed using SAS version 9.2 (SAS Institute Inc.; Cary, NC, USA). Using the bivariate model parameters, summary receiver operating characteristic (sROC) curves were produced using Review Manager 5.0.22 (The Nordiac Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008). The area under the sROC curve (AUC) was estimated by bivariate mixed-efects binary regression modeling framework. Model specification, estimation and prediction are carried out with xtmelogit in Stata release 10 (Statacorp, 2007). Statistical tests for the differences in AUC estimates could not be carried out.
The study results were stratified according to patient or disease characteristics such as age, severity of Marsh grade abnormalities, among others, if reported in the studies. The literature indicates that the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease may be affected in patients with chronic liver disease, therefore, the studies identified through the systematic literature review that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic tests for celiac disease in patients with chronic liver disease were summarized. The effect of the GFD in patiens diagnosed with celiac disease was also summarized if reported in the studies eligible for the analysis.
Summary of Findings
Published Systematic Reviews
Five systematic reviews of studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of serologic celiac disease tests were identified through our literature search. Seventeen individual studies identified in adults and children were eligible for this evaluation.
In general, the studies included evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of at least one serologic test in subjects with symptoms consistent with celiac disease. The gold standard used to confirm the celiac disease diagnosis was small bowel biopsy. Serologic tests evaluated included tTG, EMA, AGA, and DGP, using either IgA or IgG antibodies. Indirect immunoflurorescence was used for the EMA serologic tests whereas enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used for the other serologic tests.
Common symptoms described in the studies were chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, unexplained weight loss, unexplained anemia, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
The main conclusions of the published systematic reviews are summarized below.
IgA tTG and/or IgA EMA have a high accuracy (pooled sensitivity: 90% to 98%, pooled specificity: 95% to 99% depending on the pooled analysis).
Most reviews found that AGA (IgA or IgG) are not as accurate as IgA tTG and/or EMA tests.
A 2009 systematic review concluded that DGP (IgA or IgG) seems to have a similar accuracy compared to tTG, however, since only 2 studies identified evaluated its accuracy, the authors believe that additional data is required to draw firm conclusions.
Two systematic reviews also concluded that combining two serologic celiac disease tests has little contribution to the accuracy of the diagnosis.
MAS Analysis
The pooled analysis performed by MAS showed that IgA tTG has a sensitivity of 92.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 88.0, 96.3], compared to 89.2% (83.3, 95.1, p=0.12) for IgA DGP, 85.1% (79.5, 94.4, p=0.07) for IgA EMA, and 74.9% (63.6, 86.2, p=0.0003) for IgA AGA. Among the IgG-based tests, the results suggest that IgG DGP has a sensitivity of 88.4% (95% CI: 82.1, 94.6), 44.7% (30.3, 59.2) for tTG, and 69.1% (56.0, 82.2) for AGA. The difference was significant when IgG DGP was compared to IgG tTG but not IgG AGA. Combining serologic celiac disease tests yielded a slightly higher sensitivity compared to individual IgA-based serologic tests.
IgA deficiency
The prevalence of total or severe IgA deficiency was low in the studies identified varying between 0 and 1.7% as reported in 3 studies in which IgA deficiency was not used as a referral indication for celiac disease serologic testing. The results of IgG-based serologic tests were positive in all patients with IgA deficiency in which celiac disease was confirmed by small bowel biopsy as reported in four studies.
The MAS pooled analysis indicates a high specificity across the different serologic tests including the combination strategy, pooled estimates ranged from 90.1% to 98.7% depending on the test.
Likelihood Ratios
According to the likelihood ratio estimates, both IgA tTG and serologic test combinationa were considered very useful tests (positive likelihood ratio above ten and the negative likelihood ratio below 0.1).
Moderately useful tests included IgA EMA, IgA DGP, and IgG DGP (positive likelihood ratio between five and ten and the negative likelihood ratio between 0.1 and 0.2).
Somewhat useful tests: IgA AGA, IgG AGA, generating small but sometimes important changes from pre- to post-test probability (positive LR between 2 and 5 and negative LR between 0.2 and 0.5)
Not Useful: IgG tTG, altering pre- to post-test probability to a small and rarely important degree (positive LR between 1 and 2 and negative LR between 0.5 and 1).
Diagnostic Odds Ratios (DOR)
Among the individual serologic tests, IgA tTG had the highest DOR, 136.5 (95% CI: 51.9, 221.2). The statistical significance of the difference in DORs among tests was not calculated, however, considering the wide confidence intervals obtained, the differences may not be statistically significant.
Area Under the sROC Curve (AUC)
The sROC AUCs obtained ranged between 0.93 and 0.99 for most IgA-based tests with the exception of IgA AGA, with an AUC of 0.89.
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Age Groups
Serologic test accuracy did not seem to vary according to age (adults or children).
Sensitivity and Specificity of Serologic Tests According to Marsh Criteria
Four studies observed a trend towards a higher sensitivity of serologic celiac disease tests when Marsh 3c grade abnormalities were found in the small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3a or 3b (statistical significance not reported). The sensitivity of serologic tests was much lower when Marsh 1 grade abnormalities were found in small bowel biopsy compared to Marsh 3 grade abnormalities. The statistical significance of these findings were not reported in the studies.
Diagnostic Accuracy of Serologic Celiac Disease Tests in Subjects with Chronic Liver Disease
A total of 14 observational studies that evaluated the specificity of serologic celiac disease tests in subjects with chronic liver disease were identified. All studies evaluated the frequency of false positive results (1-specificity) of IgA tTG, however, IgA tTG test kits using different substrates were used, i.e., human recombinant, human, and guinea-pig substrates. The gold standard, small bowel biopsy, was used to confirm the result of the serologic tests in only 5 studies. The studies do not seem to have been designed or powered to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic celiac disease tests.
The results of the studies identified in the systematic literature review suggest that there is a trend towards a lower frequency of false positive results if the IgA tTG test using human recombinant substrate is used compared to the guinea pig substrate in subjects with chronic liver disease. However, the statistical significance of the difference was not reported in the studies. When IgA tTG with human recombinant substrate was used, the number of false positives seems to be similar to what was estimated in the MAS pooled analysis for IgA-based serologic tests in a general population of patients. These results should be interpreted with caution since most studies did not use the gold standard, small bowel biopsy, to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of celiac disease, and since the studies were not designed to compare the diagnostic accuracy among different serologic tests. The sensitivity of the different serologic tests in patients with chronic liver disease was not evaluated in the studies identified.
Effects of a Gluten-Free Diet (GFD) in Patients Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
Six studies identified evaluated the effects of GFD on clinical, histological, or serologic improvement in patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Improvement was observed in 51% to 95% of the patients included in the studies.
Grading of Evidence
Overall, the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low depending on the serologic celiac disease test. Reasons to downgrade the quality of the evidence included the use of a surrogate endpoint (diagnostic accuracy) since none of the studies evaluated clinical outcomes, inconsistencies among study results, imprecise estimates, and sparse data. The quality of the evidence was considered moderate for IgA tTg and IgA EMA, low for IgA DGP, and serologic test combinations, and very low for IgA AGA.
Clinical Validity and Clinical Utility of Serologic Testing in the Diagnosis of Celiac Disease
The clinical validity of serologic tests in the diagnosis of celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease due to
High accuracy of some serologic tests.
Serologic tests detect possible celiac disease cases and avoid unnecessary small bowel biopsy if the test result is negative, unless an endoscopy/ small bowel biopsy is necessary due to the clinical presentation.
Serologic tests support the results of small bowel biopsy.
The clinical utility of serologic tests for the diagnosis of celiac disease, as defined by its impact in decision making was also considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease given the considerations listed above and since celiac disease diagnosis leads to treatment with a gluten-free diet.
Economic Analysis
A decision analysis was constructed to compare costs and outcomes between the tests based on the sensitivity, specificity and prevalence summary estimates from the MAS Evidence-Based Analysis (EBA). A budget impact was then calculated by multiplying the expected costs and volumes in Ontario. The outcome of the analysis was expected costs and false negatives (FN). Costs were reported in 2010 CAD$. All analyses were performed using TreeAge Pro Suite 2009.
Four strategies made up the efficiency frontier; IgG tTG, IgA tTG, EMA and small bowel biopsy. All other strategies were dominated. IgG tTG was the least costly and least effective strategy ($178.95, FN avoided=0). Small bowel biopsy was the most costly and most effective strategy ($396.60, FN avoided =0.1553). The cost per FN avoided were $293, $369, $1,401 for EMA, IgATTG and small bowel biopsy respectively. One-way sensitivity analyses did not change the ranking of strategies.
All testing strategies with small bowel biopsy are cheaper than biopsy alone however they also result in more FNs. The most cost-effective strategy will depend on the decision makers’ willingness to pay. Findings suggest that IgA tTG was the most cost-effective and feasible strategy based on its Incremental Cost-Effectiveness Ratio (ICER) and convenience to conduct the test. The potential impact of IgA tTG test in the province of Ontario would be $10.4M, $11.0M and $11.7M respectively in the following three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The panel of tests is the commonly used strategy in the province of Ontario therefore the impact to the system would be $13.6M, $14.5M and $15.3M respectively in the next three years based on past volumes and trends in the province and basecase expected costs.
The clinical validity and clinical utility of serologic tests for celiac disease was considered high in subjects with symptoms consistent with this disease as they aid in the diagnosis of celiac disease and some tests present a high accuracy.
The study findings suggest that IgA tTG is the most accurate and the most cost-effective test.
AGA test (IgA) has a lower accuracy compared to other IgA-based tests
Serologic test combinations appear to be more costly with little gain in accuracy. In addition there may be problems with generalizability of the results of the studies included in this review if different test combinations are used in clinical practice.
IgA deficiency seems to be uncommon in patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
The generalizability of study results is contingent on performing both the serologic test and small bowel biopsy in subjects on a gluten-containing diet as was the case in the studies identified, since the avoidance of gluten may affect test results.
PMCID: PMC3377499  PMID: 23074399
23.  Efficacy and safety analysis of once per cycle pegfilgrastim and daily lenograstim in patients with breast cancer receiving adjuvant myelosuppressive chemotherapy FEC 100: a pilot study 
Neutropenia is a common toxicity in patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy. In this prospective pilot study, we compared the efficacy and safety profiles of pegfilgrastim administered subcutaneously once per cycle and lenograstim administered subcutaneously daily six times per cycle, for primary neutropenia prophylaxis in women with breast cancer receiving adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
Materials and methods
Twenty women were enrolled. All patients received epirubicin 100 mg/m2 with 5-fluorouracil 500 mg/m2 and cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m2 on day 1 and every 21 days thereafter, according to the FEC 100 chemotherapy regimen. Eight patients received a single dose of pegfilgrastim on day 2, while 12 patients were treated with daily administration of lenograstim from days five to ten. Absolute neutrophil count and duration of grade 3–4 neutropenia were monitored using seriated blood samples. The incidence of bone pain was evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS).
The incidence of grade 3–4 neutropenia was 75% in patients who received pegfilgrastim, and 25% in patients who received lenograstim. One case of febrile neutropenia was shown in pegfilgrastim patients. The mean duration of grade 3–4 neutropenia was 2 days in pegfilgrastim group versus 1.4 days in the lenograstim group. Bone pain was present in 37.5% of pegfilgrastim patients versus 58.3% of lenograstim patients. The mean duration of bone pain in the pegfilgrastim group was 4 days versus 6 days in the lenograstim group.
In our experience, a single injection of pegfilgrastim was less effective for controlling neutropenia than six daily injections of lenograstim. The safety profiles of pegfilgrastim and lenograstim were similar with a lower incidence of bone pain in patients treated with pegfilgrastim.
PMCID: PMC3832460  PMID: 24255599
lenograstim; pegfilgrastim; neutropenia; bone pain; breast cancer; adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy
24.  Implementing the 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations on resident physician work hours, supervision, and safety 
Long working hours and sleep deprivation have been a facet of physician training in the US since the advent of the modern residency system. However, the scientific evidence linking fatigue with deficits in human performance, accidents and errors in industries from aeronautics to medicine, nuclear power, and transportation has mounted over the last 40 years. This evidence has also spawned regulations to help ensure public safety across safety-sensitive industries, with the notable exception of medicine.
In late 2007, at the behest of the US Congress, the Institute of Medicine embarked on a year-long examination of the scientific evidence linking resident physician sleep deprivation with clinical performance deficits and medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s report, entitled “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety”, published in January 2009, recommended new limits on resident physician work hours and workload, increased supervision, a heightened focus on resident physician safety, training in structured handovers and quality improvement, more rigorous external oversight of work hours and other aspects of residency training, and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to implement the recommended reforms successfully and protect the public and resident physicians themselves from preventable harm.
Given that resident physicians comprise almost a quarter of all physicians who work in hospitals, and that taxpayers, through Medicare and Medicaid, fund graduate medical education, the public has a deep investment in physician training. Patients expect to receive safe, high-quality care in the nation’s teaching hospitals. Because it is their safety that is at issue, their voices should be central in policy decisions affecting patient safety. It is likewise important to integrate the perspectives of resident physicians, policy makers, and other constituencies in designing new policies. However, since its release, discussion of the Institute of Medicine report has been largely confined to the medical education community, led by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
To begin gathering these perspectives and developing a plan to implement safer work hours for resident physicians, a conference entitled “Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety: What will it take to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations?” was held at Harvard Medical School on June 17–18, 2010. This White Paper is a product of a diverse group of 26 representative stakeholders bringing relevant new information and innovative practices to bear on a critical patient safety problem. Given that our conference included experts from across disciplines with diverse perspectives and interests, not every recommendation was endorsed by each invited conference participant. However, every recommendation made here was endorsed by the majority of the group, and many were endorsed unanimously. Conference members participated in the process, reviewed the final product, and provided input before publication. Participants provided their individual perspectives, which do not necessarily represent the formal views of any organization.
In September 2010 the ACGME issued new rules to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Unfortunately, they stop considerably short of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and those endorsed by this conference. In particular, the ACGME only applied the limitation of 16 hours to first-year resident physicans. Thus, it is clear that policymakers, hospital administrators, and residency program directors who wish to implement safer health care systems must go far beyond what the ACGME will require. We hope this White Paper will serve as a guide and provide encouragement for that effort.
Resident physician workload and supervision
By the end of training, a resident physician should be able to practice independently. Yet much of resident physicians’ time is dominated by tasks with little educational value. The caseload can be so great that inadequate reflective time is left for learning based on clinical experiences. In addition, supervision is often vaguely defined and discontinuous. Medical malpractice data indicate that resident physicians are frequently named in lawsuits, most often for lack of supervision. The recommendations are: The ACGME should adjust resident physicians workload requirements to optimize educational value. Resident physicians as well as faculty should be involved in work redesign that eliminates nonessential and noneducational activity from resident physician dutiesMechanisms should be developed for identifying in real time when a resident physician’s workload is excessive, and processes developed to activate additional providersTeamwork should be actively encouraged in delivery of patient care. Historically, much of medical training has focused on individual knowledge, skills, and responsibility. As health care delivery has become more complex, it will be essential to train resident and attending physicians in effective teamwork that emphasizes collective responsibility for patient care and recognizes the signs, both individual and systemic, of a schedule and working conditions that are too demanding to be safeHospitals should embrace the opportunities that resident physician training redesign offers. Hospitals should recognize and act on the potential benefits of work redesign, eg, increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality of care, and resident physician and attending job satisfactionAttending physicians should supervise all hospital admissions. Resident physicians should directly discuss all admissions with attending physicians. Attending physicians should be both cognizant of and have input into the care patients are to receive upon admission to the hospitalInhouse supervision should be required for all critical care services, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and trauma services. Resident physicians should not be left unsupervised to care for critically ill patients. In settings in which the acuity is high, physicians who have completed residency should provide direct supervision for resident physicians. Supervising physicians should always be physically in the hospital for supervision of resident physicians who care for critically ill patientsThe ACGME should explicitly define “good” supervision by specialty and by year of training. Explicit requirements for intensity and level of training for supervision of specific clinical scenarios should be providedCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should use graduate medical education funding to provide incentives to programs with proven, effective levels of supervision. Although this action would require federal legislation, reimbursement rules would help to ensure that hospitals pay attention to the importance of good supervision and require it from their training programs
Resident physician work hours
Although the IOM “Sleep, supervision and safety” report provides a comprehensive review and discussion of all aspects of graduate medical education training, the report’s focal point is its recommendations regarding the hours that resident physicians are currently required to work. A considerable body of scientific evidence, much of it cited by the Institute of Medicine report, describes deteriorating performance in fatigued humans, as well as specific studies on resident physician fatigue and preventable medical errors.
The question before this conference was what work redesign and cultural changes are needed to reform work hours as recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s evidence-based report? Extensive scientific data demonstrate that shifts exceeding 12–16 hours without sleep are unsafe. Several principles should be followed in efforts to reduce consecutive hours below this level and achieve safer work schedules. The recommendations are: Limit resident physician work hours to 12–16 hour maximum shiftsA minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between shiftsResident physician input into work redesign should be actively solicitedSchedules should be designed that adhere to principles of sleep and circadian science; this includes careful consideration of the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts, and provision of adequate time off after night work, as specified in the IOM reportResident physicians should not be scheduled up to the maximum permissible limits; emergencies frequently occur that require resident physicians to stay longer than their scheduled shifts, and this should be anticipated in scheduling resident physicians’ work shiftsHospitals should anticipate the need for iterative improvement as new schedules are initiated; be prepared to learn from the initial phase-in, and change the plan as neededAs resident physician work hours are redesigned, attending physicians should also be considered; a potential consequence of resident physician work hour reduction and increased supervisory requirements may be an increase in work for attending physicians; this should be carefully monitored, and adjustments to attending physician work schedules made as needed to prevent unsafe work hours or working conditions for this group“Home call” should be brought under the overall limits of working hours; work load and hours should be monitored in each residency program to ensure that resident physicians and fellows on home call are getting sufficient sleepMedicare funding for graduate medical education in each hospital should be linked with adherence to the Institute of Medicine limits on resident physician work hours
Moonlighting by resident physicians
The Institute of Medicine report recommended including external as well as internal moonlighting in working hour limits. The recommendation is: All moonlighting work hours should be included in the ACGME working hour limits and actively monitored. Hospitals should formalize a moonlighting policy and establish systems for actively monitoring resident physician moonlighting
Safety of resident physicians
The “Sleep, supervision and safety” report also addresses fatigue-related harm done to resident physicians themselves. The report focuses on two main sources of physical injury to resident physicians impaired by fatigue, ie, needle-stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens and motor vehicle crashes. Providing safe transportation home for resident physicians is a logistical and financial challenge for hospitals. Educating physicians at all levels on the dangers of fatigue is clearly required to change driving behavior so that safe hospital-funded transport home is used effectively. Fatigue-related injury prevention (including not driving while drowsy) should be taught in medical school and during residency, and reinforced with attending physicians; hospitals and residency programs must be informed that resident physicians’ ability to judge their own level of impairment is impaired when they are sleep deprived; hence, leaving decisions about the capacity to drive to impaired resident physicians is not recommendedHospitals should provide transportation to all resident physicians who report feeling too tired to drive safely; in addition, although consecutive work should not exceed 16 hours, hospitals should provide transportation for all resident physicians who, because of unforeseen reasons or emergencies, work for longer than consecutive 24 hours; transportation under these circumstances should be automatically provided to house staff, and should not rely on self-identification or request
Training in effective handovers and quality improvement
Handover practice for resident physicians, attendings, and other health care providers has long been identified as a weak link in patient safety throughout health care settings. Policies to improve handovers of care must be tailored to fit the appropriate clinical scenario, recognizing that information overload can also be a problem. At the heart of improving handovers is the organizational effort to improve quality, an effort in which resident physicians have typically been insufficiently engaged. The recommendations are: Hospitals should train attending and resident physicians in effective handovers of careHospitals should create uniform processes for handovers that are tailored to meet each clinical setting; all handovers should be done verbally and face-to-face, but should also utilize written toolsWhen possible, hospitals should integrate hand-over tools into their electronic medical records (EMR) systems; these systems should be standardized to the extent possible across residency programs in a hospital, but may be tailored to the needs of specific programs and services; federal government should help subsidize adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals to improve signoutWhen feasible, handovers should be a team effort including nurses, patients, and familiesHospitals should include residents in their quality improvement and patient safety efforts; the ACGME should specify in their core competency requirements that resident physicians work on quality improvement projects; likewise, the Joint Commission should require that resident physicians be included in quality improvement and patient safety programs at teaching hospitals; hospital administrators and residency program directors should create opportunities for resident physicians to become involved in ongoing quality improvement projects and root cause analysis teams; feedback on successful quality improvement interventions should be shared with resident physicians and broadly disseminatedQuality improvement/patient safety concepts should be integral to the medical school curriculum; medical school deans should elevate the topics of patient safety, quality improvement, and teamwork; these concepts should be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum and reinforced throughout residency; mastery of these concepts by medical students should be tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) stepsFederal government should support involvement of resident physicians in quality improvement efforts; initiatives to improve quality by including resident physicians in quality improvement projects should be financially supported by the Department of Health and Human Services
Monitoring and oversight of the ACGME
While the ACGME is a key stakeholder in residency training, external voices are essential to ensure that public interests are heard in the development and monitoring of standards. Consequently, the Institute of Medicine report recommended external oversight and monitoring through the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recommendations are: Make comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal; fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but also for nurses, attending physicians, and other health care workers; the Joint Commission should seek to ensure that all health care workers, not just resident physicians, are working as safely as possibleFederal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, should encourage development of comprehensive fatigue management programs which all health systems would eventually be required to implementMake ACGME compliance with working hours a “ condition of participation” for reimbursement of direct and indirect graduate medical education costs; financial incentives will greatly increase the adoption of and compliance with ACGME standards
Future financial support for implementation
The Institute of Medicine’s report estimates that $1.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) would be needed to implement its recommendations. Twenty-five percent of that amount ($376 million) will be required just to bring hospitals into compliance with the existing 2003 ACGME rules. Downstream savings to the health care system could potentially result from safer care, but these benefits typically do not accrue to hospitals and residency programs, who have been asked historically to bear the burden of residency reform costs. The recommendations are: The Institute of Medicine should convene a panel of stakeholders, including private and public funders of health care and graduate medical education, to lay down the concrete steps necessary to identify and allocate the resources needed to implement the recommendations contained in the IOM “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety” report. Conference participants suggested several approaches to engage public and private support for this initiativeEfforts to find additional funding to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations should focus more broadly on patient safety and health care delivery reform; policy efforts focused narrowly upon resident physician work hours are less likely to succeed than broad patient safety initiatives that include residency redesign as a key componentHospitals should view the Institute of Medicine recommendations as an opportunity to begin resident physician work redesign projects as the core of a business model that embraces safety and ultimately saves resourcesBoth the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take the Institute of Medicine recommendations into consideration when promulgating rules for innovation grantsThe National Health Care Workforce Commission should consider the Institute of Medicine recommendations when analyzing the nation’s physician workforce needs
Recommendations for future research
Conference participants concurred that convening the stakeholders and agreeing on a research agenda was key. Some observed that some sectors within the medical education community have been reluctant to act on the data. Several logical funders for future research were identified. But above all agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the only stakeholder that funds graduate medical education upstream and will reap savings downstream if preventable medical errors are reduced as a result of reform of resident physician work hours.
PMCID: PMC3630963  PMID: 23616719
resident; hospital; working hours; safety
25.  Pharmaceutical Company Influence on Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug Prescribing Behaviors 
Adherence to safer nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) prescribing strategies remains low, despite their acceptance as markers of high-quality care and their aggressive dissemination. This study describes the taxonomy of methods used by pharmaceutical companies to influence physicians’ NSAID prescribing behaviors and elicits physicians’ perceptions of and counter-balances to these influences.
Study Design
In-depth interviews analyzed using the constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with physicians representing various clinical specialties. Interviews were transcribed and coded inductively using grounded theory. Recruitment was stopped at 25 participants after the attainment of thematic saturation, when no new concepts emerged from ongoing analysis of consecutive interviews.
Physicians described a variety of influences that shaped their NSAID prescribing behaviors, including detailing and direct contact with pharmaceutical representatives, requests from patients inspired by direct-to-consumer advertisements, and marketing during medical school and residency training. Physicians described practice guidelines, peer-reviewed evidence and opinions of local physician experts as important counterweights to pharmaceutical company influence. Local physician experts interpreted and provided context for new clinical evidence, practice guidelines and NSAID related marketing.
The social and communicative strategies used by pharmaceutical companies can be adapted to improve physicians’ adoption of guidelines for safer NSAID prescribing. The communicative interactions between local experts and other physicians who prescribe NSAIDs may be the critical target for future interventions to promote safer NSAID prescribing.
PMCID: PMC2860532  PMID: 19341315
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; clinical practice guidelines; pharmaceutical marketing; prescribing behaviors; qualitative study

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