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1.  Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors treated with high dose octreotide-LAR: A systematic literature review 
AIM: To review literature on efficacy and safety of octreotide-long-acting repeatable (LAR) used at doses higher than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved 30 mg/mo for treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).
METHODS: We searched PubMed and Cochrane Library from 1998-2012, 5 conferences (American Society of Clinical Oncology, Endocrine Society, European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society, European Society for Medical Oncology, North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society) from 2000-2013 using MeSH and keyterms including neuroendocrine tumors, carcinoid tumor, carcinoma, neuroendocrine, and octreotide. Bibliographies of accepted articles were also searched. Two reviewers reviewed titles, abstracts, and full-length articles. Studies that reported data on efficacy and safety of ≥ 30 mg/mo octreotide-LAR for NETs in human subjects, published in any language were included in the review.
RESULTS: The search identified 1086 publications, of which 238 underwent full-text review (20 were translated into English); 17 were included in the review. Studies varied in designs, subjects, octreotide-LAR regimens, and definition of outcomes. Eleven studies reported use of higher doses to control symptoms and tumor progression, although symptom severity and formal quality-of-life analysis were not quantitatively measured. Ten studies reported efficacy, describing 260 subjects with doses ranging from 40 mg/mo or 30 mg/3 wk up to 120 mg/mo. Eight studies reported expert clinical opinion that supported dose escalation of octreotide-LAR up to 60 mg/mo for symptom control and suggested increased doses may be effective at preventing tumor progression. Eight studies reported safety; there was no evidence of increased toxicity associated with doses of octreotide-LAR > 30 mg/mo.
CONCLUSION: As reported in this review, octreotide-LAR at doses > 30 mg/mo is being prescribed for symptom and tumor control in NET patients. Furthermore, expert clinical opinion provided support for escalation of somatostatin analogs for refractory hormonal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4323475
Carcinoma; Neuroendocrine; Carcinoid syndrome; Carcinoid tumor; Gastrointestinal neoplasms; Neuroendocrine tumor; Antineoplastic agents; Hormonal; Dose-Response relationship; Drug; Octreotide; Literature review; Efficacy; Effectiveness; Symptom control; Tumor progression control; Diarrhea; Abdominal pain; Flushing
2.  Long-term Mortality Associated with Oophorectomy versus Ovarian Conservation in the Nurses’ Health Study 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2013;121(4):709-716.
To report long-term mortality following oophorectomy or ovarian conservation at the time of hysterectomy in subgroups of women based on age at the time of surgery, use of estrogen therapy, presence of risk-factors for CHD and length of follow-up.
A prospective cohort study of 30,117 Nurses’ Health Study participants having a hysterectomy for benign disease Multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios [HR] for death from CHD, stroke, breast cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, total cancer and all-causes were determined, comparing bilateral oophorectomy (n=16,914) with ovarian conservation (n=13,203).
Over 28 years of follow-up, 16.8% of women with hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy died from all causes compared with 13.3% of women who had ovarian conservation (HR=1.13;95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06–1.21). Oophorectomy was associated with a lower risk of death from ovarian cancer (4v44) and prior to age 47.5 years a lower risk of death from breast cancer. However at no age was oophorectomy associated with a lower risk of other cause-specific or all-cause mortality. For women younger than 50 at the time of hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy was associated with significantly increased mortality in women who had never-used estrogen therapy, but not in past and current users: all-cause mortality (HR=1.41;95% CI, 1.04–1.92;Pinteraction=0.03); lung cancer mortality (HR=1.44;95% CI, 0.17–1.21;Pinteraction=0.02); and CHD mortality (HR=2.35;95% CI, 1.22–4.27;Pinteraction=0.02).
For women younger than 50 at the time of hysterectomy, bilateral oophorectomy was associated with significantly increased mortality in women who had never-used estrogen therapy. At no age was oophorectomy associated with increased overall survival.
PMCID: PMC4254662  PMID: 23635669
3.  Health Information on the Internet: Accessibility, Quality, and Readability in English and Spanish 
JAMA  2001;285(20):2612-2621.
Despite the substantial amount of health-related information available on the Internet, little is known about the accessibility, quality, and reading grade level of that health information.
To evaluate health information on breast cancer, depression, obesity, and childhood asthma available through English- and Spanish-language search engines and Web sites.
Design and Setting
Three unique studies were performed from July 2000 through December 2000. Accessibility of 14 search engines was assessed using a structured search experiment. Quality of 25 health Web sites and content provided by 1 search engine was evaluated by 34 physicians using structured implicit review (interrater reliability >0.90). The reading grade level of text selected for structured implicit review was established using the Fry Readability Graph method.
Main Outcome Measures
For the accessibility study, proportion of links leading to relevant content; for quality, coverage and accuracy of key clinical elements; and grade level reading formulas.
Less than one quarter of the search engine’s first pages of links led to relevant content (20% of English and 12% of Spanish). On average, 45% of the clinical elements on English- and 22% on Spanish-language Web sites were more than minimally covered and completely accurate and 24% of the clinical elements on English-and 53% on Spanish-language Web sites were not covered at all. All English and 86% of Spanish Web sites required high school level or greater reading ability.
Accessing health information using search engines and simple search terms is not efficient. Coverage of key information on English- and Spanish-language Web sites is poor and inconsistent, although the accuracy of the information provided is generally good. High reading levels are required to comprehend Web-based health information.
PMCID: PMC4182102  PMID: 11368735
4.  Incidence and cost of treatment-emergent comorbid events in insured patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection: a retrospective cohort study 
Treatment-emergent comorbid events (TECs) are common In patients initiating treatment with pegylated interferon alpha (PEG-IFN-alfa) and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The purpose of this study was to estimate the incidence and incremental cost of these events.
In a retrospective cohort analysis of healthcare claims, we studied patients with HCV who were newly treated with PEG-IFN-alfa/ribavirin between 2006 and 2008. TECs were defined by new medical/pharmacy claims for predefined conditions in the 12 months after treatment initiation. The net incremental cost of the TECs was the difference between baseline and follow-up costs for these comorbidities and their treatment, excluding PEG-IFN-alfa/ribavirin costs.
Of 3,795 newly treated patients, 1,269 (mean age 50.2, 36.2% female) met the selection criteria. New TECs were common, with 61.6% of patients having ≥1 event. Anemia was identified in 29.2% of patients, fatigue in 16.4%, depression in 11.5%, and neutropenia in 11.0%. The mean incremental cost for the predefined TEC in the postindex period was $6,377 ($2,782 for medical and $3,595 for pharmacy claims).
In an insured US cohort with chronic HCV infection, TECs with PEG-IFN-alfa/ribavirin were common and increased costs by approximately $6,000 per treated patient. This estimate may be conservative because it excludes indirect costs. Costs might increase with new regimens that include a protease inhibitor because additional TECs may be expected. Better-tolerated therapies that reduce the financial burden on the healthcare system and improve patient experience are needed.
PMCID: PMC4263056  PMID: 25249187
Insurance claims; Retrospective study; Pegylated interferon alpha; Ribavirin
5.  The Impact of 5-HT3RA Use on Cost and Utilization in Patients with Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting: Systematic Review of the Literature 
American Health & Drug Benefits  2014;7(3):171-182.
Individual studies have assessed the impact of standard prophylactic therapy with 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor antagonists (5-HT3RAs) for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) on cost and utilization, but no synthesis of the findings exists.
To systematically review published literature on costs and utilization associated with CINV prophylaxis with palonosetron and other 5-HT3RAs.
PubMed and the National Institute for Health Research Centre for Reviews and Dissemination databases, conferences of 4 organizations (ie, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, American Society of Clinical Oncology, International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, and Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer), and the bibliographies of relevant articles were queried for the medical subject headings and key terms of “ondansetron,” “granisetron,” “palonosetron,” “dolasetron mesylate,” “costs,” “cost analysis,” and “economics.” We included records published (full-length articles after 1997 and conference presentations after 2010) in English and with human patients, reporting data on cost and utilization (rescue medication, outpatient and inpatient services) associated with the use of 5-HT3RAs for the treatment or prevention of CINV.
Of the 434 identified studies, 32 are included in the current analysis: 7 studies report costs, 18 report utilization, and 7 studies report both. The costs are reported in US dollars (7 studies), in Euros (5 studies), and in Canadian dollars (2 studies). The studies vary in designs, patients, 5-HT3RA regimens, and the definition of outcomes. The US studies report higher drug costs for CINV prophylaxis with palonosetron compared with ondansetron, lower medical outpatient and inpatient costs for palonosetron versus other 5-HT3RAs, and higher acquisition costs for palonosetron versus ondansetron or other 5-HT3RAs. Fewer patients receiving palonosetron versus with ondansetron or other 5-HT3RAs required rescue medication or used outpatient or inpatient care. In Europe and in Canada, the total pharmacy costs and use of rescue medications reported are lower for patients receiving prophylaxis with palonosetron.
This analysis shows that prophylaxis with palonosetron for the treatment of CINV is associated with higher acquisition treatment costs, but also with lower use of rescue medications and outpatient and inpatient services compared with ondansetron or other 5-HT3RAs in the United States. Therefore, the use of palonosetron as a standard treatment may lead to reduced service utilization for CINV.
PMCID: PMC4070626  PMID: 24991400
6.  Ovarian Conservation at the Time of Hysterectomy and Long-Term Health Outcomes in the Nurses’ Health Study 
Obstetrics and gynecology  2009;113(5):1027-1037.
To report long-term health outcomes and mortality after oophorectomy or ovarian conservation.
We conducted a prospective, observational study of 29,380 women participants of the Nurses’ Health Study who had a hysterectomy for benign disease; 16,345 (55.6%) had hysterectomy with bilateral oophorectomy and 13,035 (44.4%) had hysterectomy with ovarian conservation. We evaluated incident events or death due to coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, total cancers, hip fracture, pulmonary embolus, and death from all causes.
Over 24 years of follow-up, for women with hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy, compared with ovarian conservation, the multivariable hazard ratios (HR) were 1.12 (95% CI 1.03, 1.21) for total mortality, 1.17 (95% CI 1.02, 1.35) for fatal plus nonfatal CHD, and 1.14 (95% CI 0.98, 1.33) for stroke. Although the risks of breast (HR 0.75 95% CI 0.68, 0.84), ovarian (HR 0.04 95% CI 0.01, 0.09, NNT = 220), and total cancers (HR 0.92 95% CI 0.86, 0.98) decreased after oophorectomy, lung cancer incidence (HR =1.26, 95% CI 1.02, 1.56, NNH = 190) and total cancer mortality (HR=1.17, 95% CI 1.04, 1.32) increased. For never-users of estrogen therapy, bilateral oophorectomy before age 50 was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, CHD, and stroke. With an approximate 35-year life span following surgery, one additional death would be expected for every 9 oophorectomies performed.
Compared with ovarian conservation, bilateral oophorectomy at the time of hysterectomy for benign disease is associated with a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, but an increased risk of all-cause mortality, fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease, and lung cancer. In no analysis or age-group was oophorectomy associated with increased survival.
PMCID: PMC3791619  PMID: 19384117
7.  Cost-effectiveness of the once-daily efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir tablet compared with the once-daily elvitegravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir tablet as first-line antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected adults in the US 
February 2013 US treatment guidelines recommend the once-daily tablet of efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir (Atripla®) as a preferred regimen and the once-daily tablet of elvitegravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir (Stribild™) as an alternative regimen for first-line treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This study assessed the clinical and economic trade-offs involved in using Atripla compared with Stribild as first-line antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected US adults.
A Markov cohort model was developed to project lifetime health-related outcomes, costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and cost-effectiveness of Stribild compared with Atripla as first-line antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1-infected US patients. Patients progressed in 12-week cycles through second-line, third-line, and nonsuppressive therapies, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and death. Baseline characteristics and first-line virologic suppression, change in CD4 count, and adverse effects (lipid, central nervous system, rash, renal) were based on 48-week clinical trial results. These results demonstrated equivalent virologic suppression between the two regimens. Point estimates for virologic suppression (favoring Stribild) were used in the base case, and equivalency was used in the scenario analysis. Published sources and expert opinion were used to estimate costs, utilities, risk of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, mortality, subsequent-line CD4 count, clinical efficacy, and adverse events. Costs were reported in 2012 US dollars. Sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess robustness of results.
Compared with patients initiating Atripla, patients initiating Stribild were estimated to have higher lifetime costs. Stribild added 0.041 QALYs over a lifetime at an additional cost of $6,886, producing an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $166,287/QALY gained. Results were most sensitive to first-line response rates, product costs, and likelihood of renal adverse events. When equivalent efficacy was assumed, Atripla dominated Stribild with lower costs and greater QALYs.
At a societal willingness to pay of $100,000/QALY, Stribild was not cost-effective in the base case compared with Atripla for first-line HIV treatment.
PMCID: PMC3770712  PMID: 24039438
human immunodeficiency virus; cost-effectiveness; antiretroviral therapy
8.  Hematologic Complications, Healthcare Utilization, and Costs in Commercially Insured Patients with Myelodysplastic Syndrome Receiving Supportive Care 
American Health & Drug Benefits  2012;5(7):455-465.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is rare in people aged <50 years. Most patients with this disorder experience progressive worsening of blood cytopenias, with an increasing need for transfusion. The more advanced and severe the disorder, the greater the risk that it will progress to acute myeloid leukemia. Therapy is typically based on the patient's risk category, age, and performance status. Supportive care alone is a major option for lower-risk, older patients with MDS or those with comorbidities. The only potentially curative treatment option is hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, which is typically used to treat high-risk, younger patients.
To describe and compare the hematologic complications, healthcare utilization, and costs of supportive care in patients with MDS aged <50 years and in older patients aged ≥50 years.
Using the i3/Ingenix LabRx claims database, this retrospective study included patients who were continuously enrolled (ie, 6 months preindex through 1 year postindex) in the study and who had an initial claim of MDS (index date) between February 1, 2007, and July 31, 2008. Patients treated with hypomethylating agents or thalidomide analogues were excluded. Claims included information on office visits, medical procedures, hospitalizations, drug use, and tests performed. The hematologic complications, costs, and utilization analyses were stratified by age into 2 age-groups—patients aged <50 years and those aged ≥50 years. The MDS-related diagnoses, utilization, and costs were analyzed postindex. The data used in this study spanned the period from August 1, 2006, to July 31, 2009.
We identified 1133 newly diagnosed patients with MDS who received supportive care only during the study period; of these, 19.5% were younger than age 50 years. These younger patients included more females (62.0% vs 52.5%; P = .011) and had fewer comorbidities (mean Charlson comorbidy index, 1.2 vs 2.4; P <.001) and physician office visits than those aged ≥50 years. Postindex, compared with the older patients, the younger patients had less use of erythropoietin therapy and fewer transfusions, anemia diagnoses, and potential complications of neutropenia and pneumonia diagnoses; however, more diagnoses of neutropenia and of decreased white blood cell counts were seen in the younger patients than in the older patients (P ≤.034 for all comparisons). Furthermore, younger patients had fewer mean office visits in the postindex period than older patients (17.5 vs 24.2, respectively; P <.001) and fewer hospitalizations (32.1% vs 44.6%, respectively; P = .004), but they had a longer (although not statistically significant) mean length of hospital stay (21 vs 14 days, respectively; P = .131). Mean total healthcare charges were $96,277 (median, $21,287) in younger patients compared with $84,102 (median, $39,402) in older patients, although this difference, too, was not significant.
MDS is associated with frequent and prolonged hospitalizations, frequent outpatient visits, and high costs in younger and in older patients who are receiving supportive care. Although this study shows that younger patients aged <50 years do not have significantly higher costs overall, a small proportion may have a higher healthcare utilization and cost-related burden of MDS than patients aged ≥50 years.
PMCID: PMC4031699  PMID: 24991341
9.  Physician Survey of the Effect of the 21-Gene Recurrence Score Assay Results on Treatment Recommendations for Patients With Lymph Node–Positive, Estrogen Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2011;7(2):94-99.
This physician survey looks at the effect of the 21-gene recurrence score assay results on adjuvant treatment recommendations for patients with lymph node–positive, estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer.
To survey the effect of the 21-gene recurrence score (RS) assay results on adjuvant treatment recommendations for patients with lymph node–positive (N+), estrogen receptor–positive (ER+) breast cancer.
Medical oncologists who ordered the 21-gene RS assay were invited to complete a survey regarding their most recent patient with N+/ER+ breast cancer. We obtained responses from 160 (16%) of the 1,017 medical oncologists.
Most of the respondents were in community (71%) versus academic (25%) settings and had practiced for a median of 11 years. T1, T2, or T3 disease was reported in 62%, 35%, and 3% of patients, respectively. One, two, three, or ≥ 4 nodes were reported in 69%, 18%, 6%, and 3% of patients, respectively. Eighty-six percent of the oncologists made treatment recommendations before obtaining the RS; 51% changed their recommendations after receiving the RS. In 33%, treatment intensity decreased from chemotherapy plus hormonal therapy to hormonal therapy alone. In 9%, treatment intensity increased from hormonal therapy alone to chemotherapy plus hormonal therapy. In 8%, treatment recommendations changed in a way that did not fit the definition of either increased or decreased intensity.
In this survey of physician practice, the RS result was used to guide adjuvant treatment decision making in N+/ER+ breast cancer more often in patients with tumors less than 5 cm in size and one to three positive lymph nodes than in patients with larger tumors and four or more positive nodes and yielded an overall reduction in recommendations for chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC3051869  PMID: 21731516
10.  Impact of Alvimopan (Entereg) on Hospital Costs After Bowel Resection 
Pharmacy and Therapeutics  2011;36(4):209-220.
Delayed gastrointestinal (GI) recovery after bowel resection is associated with longer hospital stays and increased health care costs. Alvimopan (Entereg), a peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonist, accelerates GI recovery after bowel-resection surgery. We undertook a study to evaluate the economic impact of alvimopan in clinical practice.
We conducted a retrospective matched cohort study using data from a large national hospital database and identified adults who had undergone small-bowel or large-bowel resection with primary anastomosis. The patients were discharged between January 1, 2009, and June 30, 2009. The surgery was performed at a hospital where alvimopan was used at least once during the study period. We matched each alvimopan patient (“user”) with two controls (“non-users”). The primary outcome of total hospital costs (including the cost of alvimopan) and secondary outcomes of cost components and length of stay were compared between groups.
The final study cohort included 480 alvimopan patients and 960 matched controls. The mean total hospital cost was $12,865 for alvimopan patients, compared with $13,905 for controls, for a difference of $1,040 (P = 0.033). There was a non-significant trend toward lower ileus-related costs between groups ($83 for alvimopan vs. $114 for controls, P = 0.086). Pharmacy and diagnostic radiology costs did not differ significantly. The mean length of stay was 5.6 days for alvimopan patients and 6.5 days for controls (P < 0.001).
Patients receiving alvimopan capsules had significantly lower total hospital costs compared with controls. Along with other initiatives to improve quality and reduce costs of surgical care, alvimopan might be a good choice for use in the perioperative management of patients who undergo segmental bowel resection with primary anastomosis.
PMCID: PMC3086114  PMID: 21572777
alvimopan; bowel resection; hospital cost; postoperative ileus; length of stay

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