Objectives Some targeted therapies have improved survival and overall quality of cancer care generally, but these increasingly expensive medicines have led to increases in pharmaceutical expenditure. This study examined trends in use and expenditures of antineoplastic agents in Taiwan, and estimated market shares by prescription volume and costs of targeted therapies over time. We also determined which cancer types accounted for the highest use of targeted therapies. Design This is a retrospective observational study focusing on the utilisation of targeted therapies for treatment of cancer. Setting The monthly claims data for antineoplastic agents were retrieved from Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database (2009-2012). Main outcome measures We calculated market shares by prescription volume and costs for each class of antineoplastic agent by cancer type. Using a time series design with Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average (ARIMA) models, we estimated trends in use and costs of targeted therapies. Results Among all antineoplastic agents, use of targeted therapies grew from 6.24% in 2009 to 12.29% in 2012, but their costs rose from 26.16% to 41.57% in that time. Monoclonal antibodies and protein kinase inhibitors contributed the most (respectively, 23.84% and 16.12% of costs for antineoplastic agents in 2012). During 2009-2012, lung (44.64% of use; 28.26% of costs), female breast (16.49% of use; 27.18% of costs) and colorectal (12.11% of use; 13.16% of costs) cancers accounted for the highest use of targeted therapies. Conclusions In Taiwan, targeted therapies are increasingly used for different cancers, representing a substantial economic burden. It is important to establish mechanisms to monitor their use and outcomes.
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