Wednesday, March 25, 2015
BREAKING: cancer therapy prolongs survival 6 months, worth 2-3 billion/year
by: Alex Smith @AlexSmithMD
An article was published yesterday that provides supporting evidence that a treatment* for advanced cancer improves survival by up to 6 months (18 vs 12 months). This study was conducted in a population of patients with advanced cancer who had a prognosis of less than 2 years. The first, earlier study of this treatment* to examine survival demonstrated a survival benefit of about 3 months in advanced lung cancer.
This is big news folks.
A major question for our society - can we afford this treatment*?
By way of comparison, Avastin (bevacizumab) increases survival by about 4 months, about the same as the average survival benefit of this treatment*. Avastin had sales of about $2-3 billion per year at the time it was released. The average cost for Avastin per patient is between $40,000-100,000 per course of treatment.
How much as a society are we willing to invest in a treatment* that improves survival by 4 months in advanced cancer?
*Treatment is early outpatient palliative care. Costs of outpatient palliative care are generally offset by cost savings from reduced resource use (hospitalizations, emergency department visits). Costs are likely minimal to negative. If this was a drug it would be worth billions, and the US would pay for it.