Medication delivery factors and adjuvant endocrine therapy adherence in breast cancer

Joan M. Neuner, Nicole Fergestrom, Liliana E. Pezzin, Purushottam W. Laud, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Aaron N. Winn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Over 50% of breast cancer patients prescribed a 5-year course of daily oral adjuvant endocrine therapy (ET) are nonadherent. We investigated the role of costs and cancer medication delivery mode and other medication delivery factors on adherence. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of commercially insured and Medicare advantage patients with newly diagnosed breast cancer in 2007–2015 who initiated ET. We examined the association between 12-month ET adherence (proportion of days covered by fills ≥ 0.80) and ET copayments, 90-day prescription refill use, mail order pharmacy use, number of pharmacies, and synchronization of medications. We used regression models to estimate nonadherence risk ratios adjusted for demographics (age, income, race, urbanicity), comorbidities, total medications, primary cancer treatments, and generic AI availability. Sensitivity analyses were conducted using alternative specifications for independent variables. Results: Mail order users had higher adherence in both commercial and Medicare-insured cohorts. Commercially insured patients who used mail order were more likely to be adherent if they had low copayments (< $5) and 90-day prescription refills. For commercially insured patients who used local pharmacies, use of one pharmacy and better synchronized refills were also associated with adherence. Among Medicare patients who used mail order pharmacies, only low copayments were associated with adherence, while among Medicare patients using local pharmacies both low copayments and 90-day prescriptions were associated with ET adherence. Conclusion: Out-of-pocket costs, medication delivery mode, and other pharmacy-related medication delivery factors are associated with adherence to breast cancer ET. Future work should investigate whether interventions aimed at streamlining medication delivery could improve adherence for breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • Cost-related nonadherence
  • Medication adherence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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