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The costs of cancer care are rising, and spending on expensive innovative anticancer agents is likely to come under scrutiny as health care payers are confronted by the challenge of resource limits in the face of infinite demand. Indirect costs account for the major part of total attributable costs of cancer and are dominated by the cost of mortality in individuals of working age (who therefore do not contribute to economic productivity). Although cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and premature mortality, in 2007, it was estimated that cancer accounted for only around 6% of the total health care costs in Europe. It is estimated that cancer drug costs constitute around 12% of total direct cancer costs and 5% of the costs of all drugs. Countries vary in their uptake of novel anticancer agents. However, even in France--a leading nation for the use of these agents--the costs of innovative anticancer drugs accounted for <0.6% of total health care expenditure in 2006. Population-level data suggest that novel therapies have contributed (together with advances in screening and other aspects of care) to improvements in survival from cancer. If this is the case, then the potential reduction in the associated indirect costs could exceed the direct costs associated with the uptake of innovative drug therapies. Further research is required to establish the costs and benefits of novel agents in routine practice. Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society.


David Khayat. Innovative cancer therapies: putting costs into context. Cancer. 2012 May 1;118(9):2367-71

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PMID: 21918962

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