Sunday, June 5, 2016

$107 Billion on Cancer Drugs

I did not make up that number. That is how much was spent on cancer drugs world wide last year. Is it really worth it? Does it sound normal to take a drug that costs $10,000 per month? And that $107 billion reflects a 11.5% surge from new drugs introduced last year.

recent study was done for the National Institute for Health revealed a lot of questions, not a lot of answers. And the real question is are cancer patients getting their money's worth. The main goal of any cancer drug should be a longer life - which would be a cure. Correct me if I am wrong, but that is how I see it. Why else would we want these drugs? Its nice when they reduce pain and make us feel better as well but we really hope that we will live longer.

"The report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics highlights 70 new cancer treatments, treating more than 20 types of tumors, all approved in the past five years. In the United States, where cancer drug spending was $37.8 billion last year, those new drugs alone account for $9.4 billion of the increase since 2010.""

"... Not all approved cancer drugs are alike. Some may provide profound benefits, lengthening life by years; others may significantly shrink a tumor, but increase patients' chances of survival only by small amounts.

Prasad's work has found that the high prices of new cancer drugs don't reliably reflect their novelty or how well they worked in trials. One of his studies, published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined 36 drugs that were approved between 2008 and 2012 based on early indicators that they were working, such as evidence that they shrank tumors. Such measures are meant to speed up drug approvals, but there's no guarantee that a drug that temporarily stops a tumor from growing will extend lives. Only five of the 36 drugs in his study lengthened patients' lives, despite a median of more than four years of follow-up study."

So why are we spending all this money if most of them don't make us live longer? That's not worth $107 billion.

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