The two compendia that Medicare Part D recognizes to make coverage determinations for off-label prescribing were “incomplete, outdated, idiosyncratic, and unpredictable” for some chronic dermatologic conditions, according to findings recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

“When we were hearing clinicians were having trouble getting [off-label] medications for their patients, we were concerned that this issue could negatively impact their care,” says John S. Barbieri, MD, MBA, of the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, in a news story from Healio Primary Care Today.

“Since Medicare Part D coverage determinations for off-label prescribing are largely determined based on these compendia (the American Hospital Formulary Service and the DRUGDEX Information System), we were worried that issues with the quality of these compendia could be causing the coverage denials, which prompted us to study whether these compendia are adequate,” he adds.

In their study, Barbieri and colleagues evaluated a list of 238 accepted treatments for 22 chronic, noninfectious, non-neoplastic dermatological conditions that had at least four systemic therapies, including one considered first-line, but not all approved by the FDA.

Researchers found only 73 treatments listed in either compendium. In addition, 15 conditions had one or fewer treatments included in the American Hospital Formulary Service compendium, and 10 conditions had one or fewer treatments included in the DRUGDEX compendium. They also found the literature did not follow a distinguishable pattern and was sometimes based on information that was more than 30 years old.

“We were alarmed that over two-thirds of the medications evaluated were not included in these compendia, including half of the medications with the highest evidence grade (double-blind clinical trial). In addition, these compendia disagreed with each other almost a quarter of the time, which suggests that the approach used to develop these compendia is both incomplete and inconsistent,” Barbieri states as he discussed the results, in the news story.

He adds it is possible the flaws they found extend to other medical specialties with less common illness and frequent off-label prescribing.

Barbieri comments that short-term, feasible solutions are practically nonexistent, and that even long-term solutions face barriers.

“One option would be to develop compendia specific to the unique challenges of managing dermatologic illnesses, as has been done in oncology. However, given that there are over 3,000 unique diagnoses managed by dermatologists, it may be challenging to create such a supplemental compendium,” he says.

Barbieri adds other possible solutions include requiring Medicare Part D to consider evidence clinicians provide during the appeal of the prior authorization process or allow an expert panel to review appeals.

[Source: Healio Primary Care Today]