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Compare Costs and Benefits of Treatments

Posted 8/27/2015

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  As you know, there has been a great deal of work and conversation about the value of care, the possible benefits of any one available drug, the importance of evidence-based treatment choice. I have written, most recently just a few days ago, about the Choosing Wisely campaign and other initiatives that examine this issue.

  Now, in a major leap forward, the NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) has announced a tool to help patients and doctors with these difficult decisions. It will be available this fall. At the start, it will only address treatment decisions for CML and multiple myeloma, but NCCN promises it will soon be expanded to other diseases. Memorial Sloan Kettering and ASCO are developing similar tools, so it seems safe to assume that there will soon be concrete help at hand.

  Clearly, no matter what is available, these choices will be difficult. Every individual has her own value system, her own goals, her own perspectives. While one person might be willing to spend $5000 month on a targeted therapy with a 10% chance of being helpful, someone else might not make that same choice. A individual or family's life orientation, faith, financial situation, family situation are all factors.

  Here is the announcement from Reuters about the NCCN tool: 

New tool will compare costs and benefits of cancer treatments
 By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES As options for cancer patients become increasingly complicated, and expensive, the most influential source for U.S. oncology treatment guidelines will for the first time offer a tool to assess the costs versus benefits of available therapies.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) says its new tool will provide a clearer picture of the relative value of medication options, particularly in cases where a very expensive therapy does little to improve survival.

Doctors developing the measures expect them to shift demand away from less effective treatments, influencing the prices drugmakers are able to charge. They say they are responding to the needs of patients who are having to pay much more for their own care, with higher health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles, and want to know the value of their treatments.


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