No amount of innovation can justify the doubling of prices for cancer drugs

shutterstock_614148POST SUMMARY: The number of over-65s on the planet is projected almost to triple between 2010 and 2050 to 1.5bn, according to the UN. This, in turn, will spur a surge in age-related diseases such as cancer. The World Health Organization predicts the number of cases will increase 70 per cent in the next 20 years.  Global spending on cancer drugs has more than doubled in the past decade to $91bn in 2013, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. However, can the US healthcare system really afford $100,000 drugs?

Source: Financial Times “Counting the cost of cancer” Continue reading

Cost vs. benefit of cancer drugs

costbenefit“Is a $30,000-a-month drug that improves survival by 1.4 months effective?  At the ASCO meeting this week, that dialog has already begun. In a forum on drug costs, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, The architect of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, said costs can no longer be ignored. Emanuel reminded his well-heeled audience that the median household income in the United States is $52,000.  So the key questions are these: (1) Is pharma developing cancer drugs that merely extend life for a short period of time knowing they are likely to be approved and (2) Does pharma see these drugs as a “cash cow” because most insurers are not going to deny patients these treatments? Continue reading

Extending the lives of cancer patients, but at what cost ?

CANCER-articleInlineThe Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Celgene’s drug Abraxane for use in treating advanced pancreatic cancer which in clinical trials prolonged the lives of patients by a little less than two months on average.  Celgene said the drug would cost $6,000 to $8,000 a month but the drug can depress levels of white blood cells and platelets and raise the risk of bacterial bloodstream infections and lung inflammation.  Continue reading