Related Stories on Drug Pricing
|Are Cancer Drugs Worth the Money? MSKCC Tool Tests Pricing Rationale|
A health services researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center has proposed a method for assessing whether cancer drugs are rationally priced.
Peter Bach, director of the MSKCC Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, constructed DrugAbacus, a tool for analyzing the value of the new generation of cancer drugs.
“I created DrugAbacus because, as I thought about the concept of value and discussed it with many colleagues across the spectrum of the cancer world, I kept coming upon consistent themes, and in DrugAbacus I’ve made an attempt to operationalize each of them, while handing users the flexibility to determine how much each should contribute to value,” Bach said to The Cancer Letter.
By making DrugAbacus publicly available, Bach is, in effect, challenging users to come to his website, click around and form their own conclusions.
|U.S. Prescription Drug Spending Increased 13 Percent in 2014|
New hepatitis C therapies with high price tags and the exploitation of loopholes for compounded medications contributed to a 13.1 percent increase in U.S. drug spending in 2014, a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to the 2014 Express Scripts Drug Trend Report.
Hepatitis C and compounded medications are responsible for more than half of the increase in overall spending. Excluding those two therapy classes, 2014 drug trend (the year-over-year increase in per capita drug spending) was 6.4 percent.
Specialty medications—biologic and other high cost treatments for complex conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer—accounted for more than 31 percent of total drug spending in 2014.
|Tufts Researchers Say Blood Cancer Drugs Are a Good Value; Kantarjian Disagrees|
In a paper published online by the American Society of Hematology journal Blood, the Tufts team presents data from a meta-analysis to argue that, even considering their cost of $100,000 or more a year, targeted therapies, as they translate into years and quality of life gained, may justify the prices.
|Cancer Drug Prices Increased $8,500 Per Year Since 1995|
The launch prices of anticancer drugs have increased substantially over time—even when adjusted for inflation and survival benefits—according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The paper, titled “Pricing in the Market for Anticancer Drugs,” was authored by David Howard, an associate professor of health policy and management at Emory University; Peter Bach, a pulmonologist and health systems researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Ernst Berndt, the Louis E. Seley Professor in applied economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and Rena Conti, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago.
Oncologists should spearhead efforts to bring down the prices of cancer drugs, said Hagop Kantarjian, chair of the Department of Leukemia at MD Anderson Cancer Center and lead author of a recent paper on drug pricing, published in the journal Blood.
Related Stories on Zaltrap
|Zaltrap Economics 101: The Pricing And Repricing of an Expensive Drug|
Last week, pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturers of the colorectal cancer drug Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept), said they would cut the drug’s “list price” by 50 percent, in effect extending discounts to purchasers.
Soon after Zaltrap’s August launch into the U.S. market, its price triggered an unprecedented act of defiance on the part of U.S. oncologists: doctors from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center wrote in a New York Times editorial that they wouldn’t prescribe the drug because it costs twice as much as Genentech’s Avastin (bevacizumab), a competing drug with similar expected outcomes.
|Zaltrap Price Cut In Half Effective Immediately|
Responding to criticism from oncologists, the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi said that it would cut in half the price of its colorectal cancer drug Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept).
Critics said Zaltrap’s price—about $11,000 a month—was more than double that of a competing therapy, Genentech’s Avastin (bevacizumab), which is also used in the second-line colon cancer indication.
|Unwanted Distinction: MSKCC Bars Zaltrap From Formulary, Triggering Debate Over Drug Pricing|
The colon cancer drug Zaltrap, jointly marketed by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., is getting the attention no company wants.
It has triggered a discussion about the pricing of cancer drugs. Not the cost—an issue that is explosive enough—but something far deeper: the decisions that go into setting the drug’s price.
|Sanofi: Zaltrap Price Reflects Competing Drugs In Second-Line Metastatic Colon Cancer|
Sanofi officials said that, criticism notwithstanding, their drug Zaltrap was priced responsibly and is consistent with other drugs used to treat secondline metastatic colorectal cancer.
Recently, officials at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center excluded Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept) from their formulary because it’s priced twice as high as a comparable agent, Genentech’s Avastin (bevacizumab), but Sanofi officials disputed this analysis.