Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The rising cost of cancer drugs

A recent research letter in JAMA oncology presented a quick analysis of the costs of cancer drugs. The article cites evidence that cancer drug prices are rising faster than prices of drugs in other therapeutic areas. The authors found no significant price difference between next-in-class drugs and novel drugs. Drugs that were granted US FDA approval based upon disease response rate were priced significantly higher than drugs approved based upon overall survival or progression- or disease free survival, however no significant relationship between cost and the percentage improvement in end point was found. The authors concluded that current pricing is "not rational but simply reflect what the market will bear." The price which the market will bear is indeed rational from the perspective of a business though I would think. There was also no consideration given to the costs of drug development but perhaps it is insignificant, I don't know. Nonetheless, an interesting analysis that makes me wonder about drugs in other therapeutic areas.