Background: Febrile neutropenia (FN) is a serious complication of myelosuppressive chemotherapy. Clinical practice guidelines recommend routine prophylactic coverage with granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)-such as pegfilgrastim-for most patients receiving chemotherapy with an intermediate to high risk for FN. Patterns of pegfilgrastim prophylaxis during the chemotherapy course and associated FN risks in US clinical practice have not been well characterized.
Methods: A retrospective cohort design and data from two commercial healthcare claims repositories (01/2010-03/2016) and Medicare Claims Research Identifiable Files (01/2007-09/2015) were employed. Study population included patients who had non-metastatic breast cancer or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and received intermediate/high-risk regimens. Pegfilgrastim prophylaxis use and FN incidence were ascertained in each chemotherapy cycle, and all cycles were pooled for analyses. Adjusted odds ratios for FN were estimated for patients who did versus did not receive pegfilgrastim prophylaxis in that cycle.
Results: Study population included 50,778 commercial patients who received 190,622 cycles of chemotherapy and 71,037 Medicare patients who received 271,944 cycles. In cycle 1, 33% of commercial patients and 28% of Medicare patients did not receive pegfilgrastim prophylaxis, and adjusted odds of FN were 2.6 (95% CI 2.3-2.8) and 1.6 (1.5-1.7), respectively, versus those who received pegfilgrastim prophylaxis. In cycle 2, 28% (commercial) and 26% (Medicare) did not receive pegfilgrastim prophylaxis; corresponding adjusted FN odds were comparably elevated (1.9 [1.6-2.2] and 1.6 [1.5-1.8]). Results in subsequent cycles were similar. Across all cycles, 15% of commercial patients and 23% of Medicare patients did not receive pegfilgrastim prophylaxis despite having FN in a prior cycle, and prior FN increased odds of subsequent FN by 2.1-2.4 times.
Conclusions: Notwithstanding clinical practice guidelines, a large minority of patients did not receive G-CSF prophylaxis, and FN incidence was substantially higher among this subset of the population. Appropriate use of pegfilgrastim prophylaxis may reduce patient exposure to this potentially fatal but largely preventable complication of myelosuppressive chemotherapy.