Health Services Research|Articles in Press

Variation in Statewide Intravesical Treatment Rates for Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer During the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin Drug Shortage



      To measure the changes in treatment patterns for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer before and during the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) drug shortage.

      Materials and Methods

      We used a 5% random sample of Medicare beneficiaries and identified 7971 bladder cancer patients (2648 pre-BCG shortage and 5323 during the shortage) ≥66 years of age who received intravesical treatment within 1 year of diagnosis between 2010 and 2017. The BCG shortage period was defined from July 2012 ongoing. Full induction treatment with BCG, mitomycin C, gemcitabine, or other intravesical agents was defined as receiving ≥5 of 6 treatments within 60 days. State-level BCG use before and during the drug shortage was compared in US states reporting at least 50 patients in each period. Independent variables included year of index date, age, sex, race, rurality, and region of residence.


      BCG utilization rates decreased 5.9% in the shortage period (95% CI (−8.2%)-(−3.7%)). The proportion of patients that completed a full induction course of BCG decreased from 31.0% in the pre-shortage period to 27.6% in the shortage period (P = .002). 84% of reporting states (16 of 19) had decreased BCG utilization ranging between 5% and 36% compared to pre-shortage rates.


      During the BCG drug shortage, eligible bladder cancer patients were less likely to receive gold standard intravesical BCG with a large variation in treatment patterns between US states.
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