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Cost and Value

Posted 8/17/2016

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  This is another in my continuing series (of rants?) about the skyrocketing costs of some cancer drugs. It would be laughable if it were not so deadly important. How can any medicine possibly be worth paying ten times more than an older drug--when the new drug offers no improvement in survival or quality of life?

  Determining value is a process that should happen between a patient and her doctor when considering possible treatment options. The usual definition of value  is related to the cost/benefit ratio. There are others, however, that enter into these decisions. Hoping to buy, at any cost, an extra month of life may be worth it for someone who is expecting a first grandchild while someone else might experience the cost of dollars and side effects and continuing misery to be too great.

  There are some new tools that have been developed to aid in these decisions. None of them do a good job of including personal goals like the grandchild, but they are a good place to start. From Cancer Today comes this short article. If you follow the link, it will take you to the home page where there are a number of embedded links for more information.

Determining Value

New tools offer a cost-benefit analysis of cancer treatments. By Stephen Ornes

Some cancer therapies prolong overall survival for years, while others may delay symptoms for only a few weeks or months. To help patients and doctors make treatment decisions, researchers are developing new tools that measure the value of a drug by weighing its cost against the benefit to the patient.

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) introduced the Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale, which grades cancer drugs approved in Europe according to their benefits seen in clinical trials. A paper released along with the scale, published in August 2015 in the Annals of Oncology, provided the scale’s ratings for 77 cancer drugs currently used in Europe.


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