Cancer drugs are selling like hotcakes. According to recent data, sales will continue to increase. The drugs are highly effective, but the cost makes them unacceptable to healthcare systems. Cancer drugs that have been bringing huge profits to pharmaceutical companies may limit patient treatment options.
According to a new Datamonitor report, eight cancer drugs are predicted to become “blockbuster” sellers in the next few years, with sales reaching $42 billion or more by the year 2017. The sale of targeted cancer drugs totaled $17.3 billion in 2007, compared to $10.2 million for conventional chemotherapy.”
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended against using several cancer drugs because they’re not cost effective. Other healthcare systems are likely to follow. The huge profits to pharmaceutical companies will end, but more importantly, cancer patients may suffer. Four popular agents have been shunned by NICE, used for the treatment of kidney cancer - followed by protest from cancer specialists. The result is that cancer patients have to pay full price for effective therapies.
Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE claimed "We have made it possible for thousands of cancer patients to receive treatment when, without our guidance, they would almost certainly have not.” In the past, the group approved 56 other cancer drugs. They feel that recommending expensive drugs would mean that other patients might “lose out on treatments that are both clinically and cost effective.”
Datamonitor's oncology analyst, Tom Gray, PhD says, "If other healthcare systems follow the UK's example, which looks like an increasing possibility, this could significantly dampen the growth of the market, and will ultimately impact the effectiveness of treatment available to patients."
We can hope that some happy medium is reached.
More Targeted Cancer Therapies Set to Become "Blockbusters"
UK Cancer Experts Deplore NICE Decision on Kidney Cancer Drugs