Those who are suffering from cancer and who are in search of better drugs are understandably looking for one of two things – a medicine that will either extend survival rates or will improve quality of life. While there have been scores of new drugs approved for the treatment of cancer in recent years, it turns out that many of them may not do either.
A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (10/20, Fauber) report tells us that a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that two-thirds of the new cancer drugs approved in the past five years won approval based on so-called surrogate measures of effectiveness, such as scans showing tumor shrinkage. Specifically, 36 of 54 drugs showed no evidence of extending life or improving quality of life of cancer patients, even after some of the drugs had been on the market for up to four years.
The same study looked at the price of many of these drugs and found that, on average, they cost $10,000 per month, with several costing more $20,000 per month and one priced at $40,000 per month. While the FDA indicates that they are making sure that drugs are “safe and effective”, some of the drugs are not specific about the effectiveness for patients with regards to better survival rates or quality of life.
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Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]