Can Treatment Cost More than Worth?
This is an extremely provocative and important editorial from The Oncologist. It makes the point that some very expensive, think thousands of dollars, new cancer treatments have been proven to extend life by days, not weeks, not months. A comparison is given: What if you went to the doctor with pneumoia and were told that a new antibiotic, that cost $16,000, would extend your life by ten days. Would you pay for it? Would society pay for it?
I strongly urge you to read this and begin to think about your responses and the possible individual and larger implications. Here is an excerpt and then a link. Comments, please!
Is There Such a Thing as a Cancer Treatment That Isn't
Worth Its Cost?
However, costs per patient are not constant. The modest
decline in cancer mortality has been accompanied by a dramatic
rise in the cost of care. For example, new drugs that resulted
in nearly doubling the median survival time of patients
with metastatic colorectal cancer from 1 year to almost 2 years
were accompanied by a 340-fold increase in drug costs . For
localized prostate cancer, new, much more expensive treatments
such as proton therapy have been widely adopted with
only very scant scientific evidence as to whether or not they
produce superior outcomes for patients . For metastatic
prostate cancer, the sipuleucel-T vaccine increases survival by
a little more than 4 months but costs $93,000 per patient,
whereas the $400 per month ketoconazole has been replaced
by the $5,000 per month abiraterone with no evidence that it
produces superior outcomes. In pancreatic cancer, adding erlotinib
to gemcitabine increases overall survival by 10 days,
from 5.91 months to 6.24 months, at an additional cost of
!$4,300 per month. If a patient takes erolotinib for 3.75
months, the median time to progression, then those additional
10 days cost !$16,000. Imagine going to a doctor with pneumonia
and being told that for $16,000 you could obtain an antibiotic
that would extend your life by 10 days.