Are High Costs to Blame for Racial Disparities in Multiple Myeloma Treatment?

A review published in Clinical Lymphoma, Myeloma, & Leukemia assessed the causes of racial disparities between Black and white patients in the administration of novel treatments for multiple myeloma (MM).

Members of racial and ethnic minority groups are often less likely to receive novel agents for the treatment of MM. This difference has largely been attributed to the higher costs of new therapies compared to traditional chemotherapies.

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine assessed this hypothesis by reviewing the relative utilization patterns of bortezomib and lenalidomide in patients with newly diagnosed MM, based on data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database.

The data showed that Black patients were 31% less likely than white patients who receive bortezomib. There was no statistically significant difference found for the use of lenalidomide.

The investigators concluded that higher costs were not the cause of racial disparities among this patient population. Instead, issues with travel and logistics, barriers within the medical system, as well as preferences and biases among patients and providers more likely affected treatment decisions.