Drugs and Biologics Account for Largest Practice Expenses

Tony Berberabe, MPH @OncBiz_Wiz
Published: Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013

Oncology Practice Expenses

Pie Chart Depicting Oncology Practice Expenses

Source: Association of Community Cancer Centers. "2013 Trends in Community Cancer Centers"

The highest expense reported by community oncology practices continues to be attributable to drugs and biologics, according to “2013 Trends in Community Cancer Centers,” a survey sponsored by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC).

That line item category accounts for 37% of expenses, followed by staffing costs (31%). Further, the survey reveals that 72% of an oncology practice’s drug budget resides in the pharmacy, as compared to 21% in the oncology program budget.

To maintain financial stability, oncology practice managers often look to cost containment and cost reduction measures. It’s not surprising, then, that almost half (48%) of the practices surveyed report purchasing their drugs through multiple distributors. That number is up slightly from last year’s survey (42%) and down slightly from the 2011 survey (51%).

According to this year’s survey, 25% of practices purchased injectable drugs from specialty pharmacies. That’s down from last year’s survey in which one in three practices reported obtaining injectable drugs from specialty pharmacy. Interestingly, 20% of respondents reported that they were not sure if injectable drugs were purchased from a specialty pharmacy. According to the ACCC, “using specialty pharmacies is a challenge for oncology practices with regard to operations, reimbursement, patient safety, and institutional liability.”

“Trends in Community Cancer Centers” is an ongoing survey of the ACCC membership. More than 18,000 cancer care professionals from approximately 900 hospitals and more than 1200 private practices are affiliated with the ACCC.

Source: Association of Community Cancer Centers. “2013 Trends in Community Cancer Centers” http://www.accc-cancer.org/surveys/pdf/2013TrendsinCommunityCancerCenters_GF_Final.pdf

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