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Dr. Nitin Jain from MD Anderson Cancer Center discusses his oral presentation from the 2015 American Society of Hematology annual meeting on the cost of the medications for CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia).
Take Away Points:
- CLL patients are living longer so the number of us with CLL (the prevalence) is growing fast. There will be 40,000 more of us alive 10 years from now
- New drugs are expensive, used for indefinite periods of time and may soon be used in the frontline setting.
We are living longer, which is a good thing. Much of this good fortune is due to new and expensive oral medications, so there are more of us around getting treatment. Two of the medications, idelalisib and ibrutinib are, at least at this juncture, taken indefinitely providing they continue to be effective and well-tolerated. And that can be many years.
Odds are good that ibrutinib will be approved for frontline therapy in 2016. That will further increase the economic cost of CLL therapy.
The high cost of all cancer therapy, not just CLL, is not sustainable and can make these breakthrough therapies a nonstarter in developing countries.
Answers aren’t easy. It is estimated that it cost 4 billion dollars to bring a new drug to market.
Do you have any ideas or comments? Let us know what you think.
Here is a link to an article published in the Journal of Oncology Practice in March 2015 by Tait Shanafelt from the Mayo Clinic that addresses similar issues, specifically the Impact of Ibrutinib and Idelalisib on the Pharmaceutical Cost of Treating Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia at the Individual and Societal Levels.
Here is the link to Dr. Jain’s abstract entitled Prevalence and Economic Burden of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) in the Era of Oral Targeted Therapies.
Here is my interview with Dr. Jain from ASH 2015:
Brian Koffman, MD 12/29/15