November 1, 2017 – Cancer Drug Impact


Anchor lead: Do breathtakingly expensive new cancer drugs really help? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Too many cancer drugs that costs tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars don’t really help, a scathing study published in the BMJ concludes. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, describes the data.

Nelson: Out of the 68 indications that 39 or them or 57% were without evidence of a survival benefit or improved quality of life. They argued that if you wait another five years only eight drugs in addition showed these kinds of improvements. They believe that some of the approval pathways that use surrogate endpoints – surrogate endpoints the most common one used is the cancer shrunk – may be inadequate, although they have led to accelerated approval and accelerated introduction of drugs into the marketplace.  :34

Nelson believes that strategies like genetic analysis of tumors will be able to determine which patients will benefit from a treatment and limit its use to that subset, so costs will also be lowered. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.