publication date: May. 11, 2018

Generic options provide limited savings for high-priced cancer drugs

Generic drug options did not significantly reduce prices paid for the cancer therapy imatinib (Gleevec), according to a Health Affairs paper published May 10.

After nearly two years of generic competition, the price for a month of treatment with imatinib dropped by only 10 percent, according to authors from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Most estimates of price reductions due to generic entry assume prices will drop by as much as 80 percent,” said senior author Stacie Dusetzina, an associate professor of health policy at VUSM. “Obviously, we aren’t even close to that mark.”

In their Health Affairs paper, “Generic Price Competition For Specialty Drugs: Too Little, Too Late?” Dusetzina and first author Ashley Cole, a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focused specifically on generic price competition for Gleevec.

Not only did prices remain high during that period, uptake of the generic version of imatinib was slow among oncologists, she said.

When Gleevec, the poster child for effective cancer therapies, became available in 2001, it changed chronic myeloid leukemia from a condition with a short life expectancy into a manageable chronic disease.

Because patients typically take Gleevec … Continue reading Generic options provide limited savings for high-priced cancer drugs

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