How do payers respond to regulatory actions? The case of bevacizumab

Stacie B. Dusetzina, Shellie Ellis, Rachel A. Freedman, Rena M. Conti, Aaron N. Winn, James D. Chambers, G. Caleb Alexander, Haiden A. Huskamp, Nancy L. Keating

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: In February 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval for bevacizumab for metastatic breast cancer. After public hearings in July 2010, and June 2011, the FDA revoked this approved indication in November 2011, on the basis of additional evidence regarding its risk/benefit profile. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, local Medicare contractors, and commercial payers varied in their stated intentions to cover bevacizumab after FDA's regulatory actions. We examined payer-specific trends in bevacizumab use after the FDA's regulatory actions. Methods: We used outpatient medical claims compiled by IMS Health to evaluate trends in bevacizumab use for breast cancer for Medicare-insured and commercially insured patients (N = 102,906) using segmented regression. Given that Medicare coverage policies may vary across regional contractors, we estimated trends in bevacizumab use across 10 local coverage areas. In a sensitivity analysis, we estimated trends in bevacizumab use for breast cancer compared with trends in use for lung cancer using difference-in-differences models. Results: Among chemotherapy infusions for breast cancer, bevacizumab use decreased from 31% in July 2010, to 4% in September 2012. Use decreased by 11% among commercially insured and 13% among Medicare-insured patients after July 2010 (interaction P = .68) and continued to decline by 9% per month (interaction P = .61). We observed no contractor-level variation in bevacizumab use among Medicare beneficiaries. During the same period, bevacizumab use for lung cancer was stable. Conclusion: Although insurers varied in public statements regarding coverage intentions, bevacizumab use declined similarly among all payers, suggesting that provider decision making, rather than payer-specific coverage policies, drove reductions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of oncology practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Health Policy


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