Jun 30, 2009 | 3
How much are cancer drugs worth that may only prolong a patient’s life by a few weeks? It’s a pressing question given the rising cost of medicines, and one that a pair of National Institutes of Health researchers is urging cancer specialists to tackle now.
NIH’s Tito Fojo, who works on experimental cancer therapies, and Christine Grady, a bioethicist, call upon oncologists and the government to figure out when a costly cancer drug is worth prescribing and when it is not, saying, “We cannot ignore the cumulative costs of the tests and treatments we recommend and prescribe.”
The pair’s recent commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute takes a look at drugs like Erbitux, a supplemental drug for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Erbitux costs about $80,000 for 18 weeks of treatment, they write, while only prolonging life by an average of 1.2 months. The drug also carries side effects.
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