Factors Associated With Off-Label Oncology Prescriptions: The Role of Cost and Financing in a Universal Healthcare System

Noa Gordon, Daniel A. Goldstein, Boaz Tadmor, Salomon M. Stemmer, Dan Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Various solutions have been put forward for prescribing and reimbursing treatments outside their registered indications within universal healthcare systems. However, most off-label oncology prescriptions are not reimbursed by health funds. This study characterized the financing sources of off-label oncology use and the predictors of the decision to forego treatment. Materials and Methods: All 708 off-label oncology requests submitted for approval in a large tertiary cancer center in Israel between 2016 and 2018 were examined for disease and patient sociodemographic characteristics, costs and financing sources, and the factors predicting actual off-label drug administration using multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: The mean monthly cost of a planned off-label treatment was ILS54,703 (SD = ILS61,487, median = ILS39,928) (approximately US$ 15,500). The main sources of funding were private health insurance (25%) and expanded access pharma company plans (30%). Approximately one third (31%) of the requests did not have a financing source at the time of approval. Of the 708 requests, 583 (or 82%) were filled and treatment was initiated. Predictors for forgoing treatment were the impossibility of out-of-pocket payments or the lack of a financing solution (OR = 0.407; p = 0.005 and OR = 0.400; p < 0.0005). Conclusion: Although off-label recommendations are widespread and institutional approval is often granted, a large proportion of these prescriptions are not filled. In a universal healthcare system, the financing sources for off-label treatments are likely to influence access.

Original languageEnglish
Article number754390
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • cancer
  • cost
  • off-label
  • reimbursement
  • universal healthcare system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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