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New Anticancer Drugs Up Costs and Life Expectancy Considerably

Lifetime costs up $72,000, life expectancy up 13 months with new drug use in breast cancer

cost of healthcare

TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- New anticancer drugs, which increase costs considerably, are associated with large gains in life expectancy, according to research published in the September issue of Health Affairs.

Given the high costs of new anticancer medications, David H. Howard, Ph.D., from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues examined whether these drugs offer value. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database were used to assess the value of new cancer treatments in routine clinical practice for metastatic breast, lung, or kidney cancer, or chronic myeloid leukemia in 1996 to 2000 and 2007 to 2011.

The researchers observed large increases in medical costs, and these correlated with large gains in life expectancy. Lifetime costs, including costs for outpatient and inpatient care increased by $72,000 for patients with breast cancer who received physician-administered drugs; for these patients, life expectancy increased by 13 months. Patients who did not receive these drugs had much smaller changes in life expectancy and costs.

"Our results highlight the importance of considering outcomes and overall costs in routine practice when assessing the value of anticancer drugs as a group," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed being employed by Pfizer, which provided funding for the study.

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