Racial Disparities in the Utilization of Novel Agents for Frontline Treatment of Multiple Myeloma

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk. 2020 Oct;20(10):647-651. doi: 10.1016/j.clml.2020.04.018. Epub 2020 May 7.


Background: Treatment with novel agents has become the standard of care for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, but members of racial and ethnic minority groups receive these agents at a lower rate than their peers. Researchers have largely attributed this finding to the higher costs of these drugs in respect to traditional chemotherapies, but data supporting this hypothesis are lacking. We compared the relative bortezomib and lenalidomide utilization in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, hypothesizing that the disparity between white and African American patients would be greater for lenalidomide as a result of its higher overall and out-of-pocket costs.

Methods: We reviewed the utilization patterns of bortezomib and lenalidomide using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database.

Results: Bortezomib utilization was 31% less likely for African Americans compared to whites. There was no statistically significant difference in lenalidomide utilization when other factors were controlled.

Conclusion: Our findings do not support the hypothesis that higher respective costs are the cause of the racial disparities in novel agent utilization for myeloma treatment. We postulate that travel or logistical issues, structural barriers in the medical system, and preferences and biases among patients and providers may also be involved in the observed treatment disparities.

Keywords: Access barriers; Cancer disparities; Inequity; Race; SEER-Medicare.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Multiple Myeloma / therapy*