The High Price of New Cancer Drugs

Merrill Goozner

Posted 1/24/12 on Gooz News

Julie Gralow, an oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, recently prescribed an exciting new therapy for a 60-year-old woman with metastatic breast cancer. Three-and-a-half years into her battle against the disease, the patient had already exhausted three different anti-estrogen therapies, each of which only put a temporary check on the spreading tumors.

The newly prescribed drug, Novartis’ Afinitor, is one of the recently approved targeted therapies that have generated a lot of excitement among cancer patients and oncologists in recent years. Drugs that target just the cancer cells promise the same or better results as toxic chemotherapy, but with far fewer side effects.

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Specialty Drugs Will Drive Future Rx Spending Trend

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

First published 5/19/11 on Health Populi

In the 2011 Medco Drug Trend Report, there’s good news and bad news depending on the lens you wear as a health care stakeholder in the U.S. On the positive side of the ledger, for consumers, payers and health plan sponsors, drug trend in 2010 stayed fairly flat at 3.7% growth. That’s due in major part to the increasing roster of generic drugs taking the place of aging branded prescriptions products. More than $100 billion (with a ‘b’) worth of branded drugs will go off-patent between 2010 and 2020, and the generic dispensing rate could reach 85% by 2020, Medco expects, especially looking at high-cost categories like statins. So generics are dramatically slowing drug cost increases overall.

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