Tips on Lowering Drug Costs of Metastatic Breast Cancer

Living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is expensive. The nature of MBC as incurable means treatments remain ongoing. When treatments must continue over a lifetime, costs add up.1

The cost of treatment

Many with MBC struggle to afford ongoing treatment. There are many aspects of treatment that can take a financial toll, such as: 1

Cost of drugs

Taking time off work
Leaving the workforce
Lifestyle adjustments take a financial toll

Data shows that ongoing MBC care can range from $100,000 to nearly $250,000 over a lifetime. Those younger at diagnosis (ages 18 to 44) see the upper end of those numbers. The continuous nature of MBC care drives up lifetime costs.1

Options for saving costs

There are options available for reducing drug costs. It takes work and persistence to find the choices that will help you.

Review your insurance policy

Start by reviewing your insurance policy. Research your plan's drug coverage and out-of-pocket costs. Create an estimate of your monthly or yearly fees. If those numbers are worrying, call the insurance company. Some plans have ways to help you reduce costs.2

You can also talk with the patient financial planner at your cancer center or hospital. There may be resources available to you.2

Consider generics

Generics are off-brand versions of drugs. These drugs contain the same active ingredients as their name-brand counterparts. They work in the same way. Any minor differences are from the inactive ingredients. However, generics typically cost 80 to 85 percent less than name-brand drugs. Generics do not require extensive clinical trials. More market alternatives drive down costs. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about generic options.2-4

Opt for drug delivery

Drug delivery can affect cost. Oral and intravenous (IV) drugs are the typical drug forms prescribed for MBC. IV drugs involve trips to the clinic. Infusions take time to receive. While pills are more convenient, they are often more expensive. Ask your insurance if the delivery method or dosage affects the cost to you. You might choose convenience if cost differences are minimal.2

Use drug company programs

Many drug companies have coupons or assistance options for their products. Contacting the company can help lower your out-of-pocket costs. There may be income, age, or insurance requirements to qualify for these programs.2

Ask your pharmacist

Pharmacists have a wealth of drug-related information. Discuss your current treatments and if there are alternatives. Pharmacists can make suggestions for a similar drug. They can look up your plan and offer lower-cost alternatives.2

Try samples

Doctors often have samples of drugs they can give you. Samples are valuable when starting a new drug. Having a sample allows you to try a drug before investing money. If your body does not respond well, you save the co-pay cost. However, not all drugs have samples available. Your doctor’s available drug samples may change from month to month.2

Bargain shop

Different pharmacies may charge different rates for your prescriptions. Shop around to see who has the best rate in your area.2

Explore clinical trials

Clinical trials provide access to new drugs before they come to the market. Companies look for participants when a new drug reaches the human trial phase. Participants are never required to pay for the drug costs.2,5

However, there may be co-pay requirements for lab work, hospitalizations, or doctor visits associated with the trial. Understand your financial responsibilities before committing to a trial. Check with your insurance company about what non-drug fees it covers.2,5

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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