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Gleevec a Cost-Effective Treatment

Study finds high price of drug balanced by expected survival increase in patients

MONDAY, Dec. 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The high price of the leukemia drug Gleevec is offset by the expected increase in survival rates among patients who take it, say two Duke University studies in the December issue of Cancer.

When looked at this way, Gleevec is a cost-effective alternative to earlier leukemia therapies, the study said. Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., which makes Gleevec, provided funding for the research and both study authors have served as consultants for Novartis.

The researchers found that newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients who take Gleevec as their first-line therapy can expect to live an average of six years longer than CML patients treated with interferon-alpha therapy.

Based on projected treatment costs and survival estimates, the researchers calculated the incremental cost of Gleevec at $43,100 per life-year saved. In the United States, $50,000 per life-year saved is a commonly accepted threshold for medical therapies.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about CML treatments.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Dec. 13, 2004
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