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Racial minority patients have been found to utilize novel agents for multiple myeloma less often than white patients. This finding has been hypothesized to be the result of increased drug costs and socioeconomic disparities. This study, published in Clinical Lymphoma Myeloma and Leukemia, compared rates of bortezomib and lenalidomide use between Black and white patients with multiple myeloma.

The researchers used data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. Rates of bortezomib and lenalidomide use were compared between Black patients and white patients. Ultimately, it was found that bortezomib use was 31% less likely among Black patients than white patients. There was no significant difference in the use of lenalidomide, which has higher overall and out-of-pocket costs than bortezomib. 

The researchers concluded that their findings do not support the hypothesis that higher costs of treatment are at the root of racial disparities in novel agent use for the treatment of multiple myeloma. They suggest that travel time or other logistical issues, structural barriers within the healthcare system, and provider biases may be the sources of the problem. More research is needed to study these hypotheses [1].


[1] Fiala, M. A., Wildes, T. M., & Vij, R. (2020). Racial disparities in the utilization of novel agents for frontline treatment of multiple myeloma. Clinical Lymphoma Myeloma and Leukemia, 20(10), 647–651. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clml.2020.04.018

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