A Medicare program to reduce cancer treatment costs hasn’t proven effective, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Medicare developed a program to rein in the costs of cancer treatment, but the results were disappointing, a new study reveals, with this comprehensive approach reducing costs by about 1%. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says newer therapies may eventually result in lower costs for cancer care.

Nelson: Thirty percent of the costs of this were for the drugs themselves. I wonder whether the progress towards drugs that are less toxic, hair doesn’t fall out, white blood cell counts don’t drop. Many of them are taken orally, so the expense of delivery is not going to be as great. If we get more people treated earlier in the course of the disease with less toxic therapies, that the other main driver of cost, which is the need for people to show up in emergency rooms, be hospitalized for treatment complications, won’t slowly but surely be less and less. :31

As cancer cases rise worldwide, developing approaches to contain costs is critical. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.