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PSSGuide_2021
Head & Neck CancerEsophageal Cancer

Drugs for Head & Neck Cancer/Esophageal Cancer

Find financial assistance programs available for head & neck cancer drugs.

Erbitux (cetuximab)

Drug company: Eli Lilly
866-472-8663

Erbitux is an EGFR antagonist used for the treatment of patients with locally or regionally advanced squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, in combination with radiation therapy; recurrent locoregional disease, or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, in combination with platinum-based therapy with 5-fluorouracil; and recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck progressing after platinum-based therapy.

Lilly Oncology offers 2 financial assistance programs for patients using Erbitux:

Lilly Oncology Infused Products Co-pay Program

For patients with private insurance who cannot afford their copay, this program provides up to $25,000 annually so that the patient pays no more than $25 per dose of Erbitux.

Lilly Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program

For eligible patients with no medical insurance, or patients whose insurance does not cover drug therapy, this program provides Erbitux at no cost, if their annual household income is up to $64,400 for 1 person; $87,100 for 2 people; $109,800 for 3 people; $132,500 for 4 people; $155,200 for 5 people; and $175,800 for 6 people.

Keytruda (pembrolizumab)

Drug company: Merck
855-257-3932

Keytruda is a PD-1 inhibitor used, in combination with chemotherapy, for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or unresectable (can’t be removed by surgery) head and neck squamous-cell cancer (HNSCC). Keytruda is also used alone for the first-line treatment of metastatic or unresectable, recurrent HNSCC and PD-L1 expression, as determined by an FDA-approved test; and for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic HNSCC that progressed during or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. In addition, Keytruda is also used for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic esophageal carcinoma that is not amenable to surgical removal or to definitive chemoradiation, either in combination with chemotherapy or alone as a single agent, after 1 or more lines of systemic therapy, in patients with squamous-cell tumor that expresses PD-L1, as determined by an FDA-approved test.

Merck offers 2 financial assistance programs for patients using Keytruda:

Merck Co-pay Assistance Program

Privately insured patients will pay the first $25 of their copay per Keytruda infusion. The maximum benefit per calendar year is $25,000.

Merck Patient Assistance Program

Patients without insurance or prescription coverage may be eligible to receive free Keytruda. Eligible patients must have a household income of $64,400 or less for individuals, $87,100 or less for a couple, or $132,500 or less for a family of 4. Patients with insurance, including Medicare Part D, who still have trouble paying for their medicines may request that an exception be made, provided their household income is not above a set limit.

Opdivo (nivolumab)

Drug company: Bristol Myers Squibb
800-861-0048

Opdivo is a PD-1 inhibitor used for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck that progressed during or after chemotherapy. Opdivo is also used for the adjuvant treatment of completely resected esophageal cancer with residual pathologic disease in patients who have received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy; and for the treatment of patients with unresectable advanced, recurrent, or metastatic esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, after chemotherapy.

Bristol Myers Squibb Access Support offers 2 financial assistance programs for patients using Opdivo:

BMS Oncology Co-Pay Assistance Program

This program provides financial assistance with the out-ofpocket deductibles, copay, or co-insurance costs for eligible, privately insured patients who have been prescribed Opdivo. Patients pay a $25 copay, while BMS covers the remaining amount, up to $25,000 annually per medication.

Bristol Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation

BMS Access Support can make a referral to independent charitable foundations, including BMS Patient Assistance Foundation. Patients who don’t have public or private insurance that helps to pay for Opdivo may be eligible for help paying for their prescription medication if they receive treatment as an outpatient and have an annual income of less than 300% of the federal poverty level, up to $38,640 for an individual or $52,260 for a family of 2.

Table. Drugs Prescribed for Head and Neck Cancer

  • Drug name (generic name)
  • Drug company
  • Indications
  • Patient support services

    Drug name (generic name)
  • Erbitux (cetuximab)
  • Drug company
  • Eli Lilly
  • Indication
  • Treatment of advanced squamous- cell carcinoma of the head and neck, in combination with radiation therapy

    Recurrent locoregional or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil

    Recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck, progressing after platinum-based chemotherapy
  • Patient support services
  • Lilly Oncology Infused Products Co-pay Program
    866-472-8663

    Lilly Cares Foundation Patient Assistance Program
    800-545-6962

    Drug name (generic name)
  • Keytruda (pembrolizumab)
  • Drug company
  • Merck
  • Indication
  • First-line treatment, in combination with chemotherapy, of metastatic or unresectable head and neck cancer

    First-line treatment, alone, of metastatic or unresectable, recurrent head and neck cancer with PD-L1 expression, as determined by an FDA-approved test

    Treatment of recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer that progressed during or after platinum-containing chemotherapy

    Treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal carcinoma that cannot be removed by surgery or by chemoradiation, either in combination with chemotherapy or alone as a single agent, after 1 or more lines of therapy, in patients with squamous-cell tumor that expresses PD-L1, as determined by an FDA-approved test
  • Patient support services
  • Merck Co-pay Assistance Program
    855-257-3932

    Merck Patient Assistance Program
    800-727-5400

    Drug name (generic name)
  • Opdivo (nivolumab)
  • Drug company
  • Bristol Myers Squibb
  • Indication
  • Treatment of recurrent or metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck

    Adjuvant treatment of completely resected esophageal cancer with residual pathologic disease in patients who have received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy

    Treatment of unresectable advanced, recurrent, or metastatic esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, after chemotherapy
  • Patient support services
  • BMS Oncology Co-Pay Assistance Program
    800-861-0048

    Bristol Myers Squibb Patient Assistance Foundation
    800-736-0003

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Last modified: March 21, 2022

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