Purpose The therapeutic benefit of a three-drug combination of antiemetics has not been established in moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (MEC). The aim of this study was to compare the antiemetic effectiveness and cost-saving of palonosetron plus dexamethasone (control group) with aprepitant, granisetron, and dexamethasone (study group) in cancer patients who received MEC. Methods We switched the standard antiemetic treatment from the control group to the study group in gastrointestinal cancer patients who received MEC after October 2015. The antiemetics in both groups were modified using salvage antiemetic therapy at the clinicians' discretion, according to the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. We retrospectively reviewed the electronic medical records from patients, before and after switching groups, from between April 2014 and March 2016. Results We evaluated 443 treatment courses in 83 patients. The proportion of courses that included salvage antiemetic therapy in the control group and the study group was 34.8 % (116/333) and 8.2 % (9/110), respectively, and was statistically significant (p < 0.001). The mean integrated costs of antiemetics per course in the control group and the study group were 193 ± 55 USD and 143 ± 38 USD, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that the study group was significantly associated with a reduced risk of requiring salvage antiemetic therapy (p = 0.038). Conclusions These results suggest that the antiemetic effectiveness and cost-saving of a three-drug combination of aprepitant, generic granisetron, and dexamethasone was superior to a two-drug combination of palonosetron plus dexamethasone in gastrointestinal cancer patients who received MEC.
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