Study: The value of cancer drugs not increasing in step with costs

Aug. 15, 2018

A recent study has concluded that even though the price of treating cancer has increased in recent years, the value for patients is not rising at the same rate.

Researchers, who published the study in the Journal of Oncology Practice, evaluated the cost of anticancer medications between 2006 and 2015, pulling data from 42 clinical trials of patients with advanced cancer.

Ultimately, they found that the cost of treating cancer increased from an average monthly price of $7,103 in 2006 to $15,353 in 2015. They also found that the incremental cost of switching from an older course of treatment to newer medications jumped from $30,447 in 2006 to $161,141 in 2015.

The researchers then used various indicators outlined by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Europe’s Society of Medical Oncology to determine if the benefits of the medications had also increased. The verdict was that there was no relationship between a boost in cost and an increase in value.

They also found that cost increases occurred with new medications whether it was an innovative new treatment or a medication that offered smaller, marginal benefits. Instead of being tied to value, the researchers concluded that price increases were more associated with marketing and production costs.

The researchers said the results should help prompt a discussion on how cancer drugs are priced and why they should be more closely linked to patient benefits.

Read the full Reuters report.