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Polypharmacy, over-the-counter medications, and aromatase inhibitor adherence in early-stage breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2024 Jan 10. doi: 10.1007/s10549-023-07218-1. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Polypharmacy is associated with negative health outcomes and decreased medication adherence. Polypharmacy is common in cancer populations, but few studies have evaluated the relationship between polypharmacy and aromatase inhibitor (AI) adherence. No studies have evaluated the relationship between over-the-counter (OTC) supplements and AI adherence. Our primary hypothesis was that polypharmacy would be associated with increased risk of premature AI discontinuation.

METHODS: This exploratory analysis used data from the Exemestane and Letrozole Pharmacogenetics (ELPh) trial, a prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial that enrolled participants from 2005 to 2009. Included patients were female, postmenopausal, with stage 0-III breast cancer, who had completed indicated chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. Participants were randomized to adjuvant exemestane or letrozole and completed serial clinical examinations and questionnaires for two years. Concomitant medication data were collected prospectively. Cox proportion models were used for statistical analysis of the relationship between polypharmacy, OTCs, medication class, and AI adherence.

RESULTS: In the 490 analyzed participants, use of any prescription medications at baseline was associated with decreased risk of premature AI discontinuation (HR 0.56, p = 0.02). Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) at baseline was associated with decreased risk of premature AI discontinuation (HR 0.67, p = 0.04). Use of any OTCs was not associated with AI discontinuation.

CONCLUSION: Baseline use of prescription medications but not OTCs was associated with increased AI persistence. Future research is needed to understand how this can be utilized to promote AI adherence.

PMID:38198070 | DOI:10.1007/s10549-023-07218-1

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