Xalkori, a newly approved for a rare form of lung cancer, is expensive as Pfizer plans to charge $115,200 a year per patient. But according to market research via Sermo some physicians have reservations about expensive cancer treatments vs. their effectiveness. ”These drugs are complex to administer, expensive, require extensive preauthorization and benefit patients fairly minimally. Health care system cannot continue to absorb these costs.” said am Oncologist on Sermo. The new model may be headed for derailment as the train leaves the tracks.
The report on Sermo revolves around the challenges of Provenge but could apply to most of the new cancer drugs. Once Oncologist said “I have not used the agent and have no plans yet. FYI the majority of eligible patients are in their 80s, so placing dialysis catheter in their neck and hooking them up to apharesis machine is not a little fit.”
However cost of new cancer drugs is also a huge issue “When considering a treatment similar to Provenge in both cost (~$90,000 per patient) and performance, 2/3rds of respondents agree that COST would be a meaningful deterrent to prescribe.” In fact one Oncologist said “”Price versus overall extended survival of an extra four months-definitely not worth it. Most patients wouldn’t want it, nor would I.” That says a lot.
What the drug companies seem to be overlooking, in addition to Oncologists concerns, are patients concerns around quality of life. We are seeing a movement from quantity of life towards quality of life and more and more patients want to ensure they can live life on THEIR terms not just extend life while being a burden to others or living with really bad medication side effects.
In all this data and feedback one has to wonder why the drug companies seem to be ignoring the cost vs. benefit as the benefit is seen by patients and physicians ? Is it because they see new cancer drugs as the savior to a whole host of drugs coming off patent and a way to keep investors happy ?
We’re headed for a showdown eventually and it’s going to get ugly. Eventually the government and/or insurers are going to deny coverage for expensive cancer drugs because of the cost/benefit and this of course is going to lead to a outcry of “you’re killing me by denying coverage”. Some European countries have already taken the step to limit new cancer drugs because of cost. The U.S. needs to do the same and the drug industry cannot make up lost revenue by charging an arm and leg for drugs that prolong life for short periods of time and not on the what the the patients consider “their terms”.
- Dendreon Lowers Sales Projections for Provenge (prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com)
- When Will MDs Prescribe Life Extending Drugs Such as Provenge – Reimbursement And Delivery Matters (ducknetweb.blogspot.com)
- Provenge, a Prostate Cancer Drug (nytimes.com)
- Pfizer Wins Approval For Xalkori, Lung Cancer Drug That Heralds Age Of Expensive, Personalized Medicines (forbes.com)
- Dendreon Shares Plummet as Company Withdraws Provenge Sales Forecast (blogs.wsj.com)
- Cancer patient’s drugs not covered in P.E.I. (cbc.ca)