As medicine prices continue to drop, spending on cancer drugs has reached a new milestone: $100 billion in 2014.
That’s more than 10 percent up from 2013, and a significant increase from $75 billion five years ago, announced a report published Tuesday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Targeted treatments, which target specific drivers of cancer, now claim almost half of total spending, IMS announced.
As more new cancer medicine gets approved, spending is likely to raise its pace. In the last five years, the average global growth rate on cancer medicines has been 6.5 percent, according to IMS. The research company predicts that rate to increase to 8 percent through 2018.
“Earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration and increased effectiveness of drug therapies are contributing to rising levels of spending on medicines for cancer care. Measures of value continue to be tested by payers and providers who, in some health systems, most notably the U.S., have growing concerns about the financial burden faced by cancer patients,” IMS scientists, led by executive director Murray Aitken, wrote in the report’s summary.
Forty-five new drugs for cancer entered the market between the years 2010 and 2014, while 10 last hit the scene year alone. Two of those drugs are immunotherapies, a new class that stimulates the immune system to fight cancer. They are called Keytruda, from Merck, and Opdivo, from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and are very expensive: $12,500 a month.
Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts, which opposed new medicines for hepatitis C to obtain discounts last year, has mentioned that one of its next aims will be cancer medicines.
But with those high prices come important improvements in results. IMS says two thirds of Americans diagnosed with cancer ae now living at least five years, compared to just more than half a year in 1990.
“Although the changes are incremental year to year, cumulatively, more patients are gaining years of life,” IMS explained. It mentioned an 18 percent improvement was recorded in the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer patients from 1990 to 2010, while a 8 percent improvement was found in breast cancer and 12 percent in liver cancer.
Drug prices, especially in cancer, have been an increasing concern for years. The topic will be discussed at the largest annual cancer research conference, the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, a couple of weeks from now, in Chicago.
Image Source: Great News