Blood utilization and hemoglobin levels in cancer patients after label and coverage changes for erythropoiesis-stimulating agents
A comprehensive literature search was performed to examine the influence of changes in erythropoietin-stimulating agent (ESA) label and reimbursement policies on utilization of red blood cell transfusions and patient hemoglobin levels in US cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or anemia management. Studies conducted in ESA-treated patients showed an increase in transfusion rates when comparing the post-intervention period with pre-intervention period (range of relative change: 15–125%). Results from studies conducted in patients receiving chemotherapy irrespective of anemia treatment were variable; single-institution-based studies tended to show a decrease in transfusion rates (range of relative change: ?3.2 to ?24.1%), while multiple-institution-based studies suggested an increase in transfusion rates (range of relative change: 12–182%). Studies showed decreases in hemoglobin levels during chemotherapy or at ESA initiation, and decreased ESA utilization.