Cancer: Aligning Costs and Care

Sandra Gittlen, March 3, 2016

There is no apparent relationship between the cost of a cancer drug and how effective it is, and physicians and patients must consider such decision factors at the point of care, says the CMO of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

As the healthcare industry strives to control costs, oncologists and other quality leaders are feeling strain related to the high-priced pharmaceuticals and other expenses associated with cancer care. The challenge is to ensure quality of cancer care when cost considerations could influence the treatment plan.

"There's no question that the costs to treat cancer have been rising. And they will continue to rise for a variety of factors, not the least of which is a trend toward combining drugs for more effective treatment," says J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year approved the use of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy and Opdivo for the treatment of advanced melanoma. The manufacturer expects the combination will cost more than $250,000 per patient in the first year of treatment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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