20 Oct More Patients Receiving Cancer Drugs That Have No Survival Benefit
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anita Katharina Wagner, PharmD, MPH, DrPH
Associate Professor of Population Medicine
Director, Ethics Program, Point32Health
(parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan)
Co-Director, HMS Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research
Co-Director, Center for Cancer Policy and Program Evaluation (CarPE)
Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The expectation for new cancer drugs is that they help patients live better longer. Increasingly more cancer drugs are approved without documented quality of life or overall survival benefits. At the same time, cancer drug prices are rising. We studied use of and spending on selected new cancer drugs among patients with employer-sponsored health insurance.
We found that among 37348 patients who received one or more of 44 oral targeted cancer drugs, the proportion of patients who received a drug without documented overall survival benefit increased from 13% in 2011 to 59% in 2018. By 2018, spending on drugs without documented overall survival benefit accounted for 52% of the $3.5 million spend on the 44 drugs since 2011.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Cancer drugs without documented overall survival benefit are increasingly used and account for substantial health care spending.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should assess to what extent patients, clinicians, and the public understand what is known and what is not known about the clinical benefits of newly approved cancer drugs and the tradeoffs of individual and societal spending on drugs without documented overall survival benefit.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Efforts by members of an international research team enabled this study, and the Department of Population Medicine’s Ebert Award and other funders partially supported these efforts.
Fu M, Naci H, Booth CM, et al. Real-world Use of and Spending on New Oral Targeted Cancer Drugs in the US, 2011-2018. JAMA Intern Med. Published online October 18, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.5983
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