Cancer Drug Avastin's Quality, Price Questioned
Cancer drug Avastin is found to cost more than it should, taking into consideration the fact that it doesn't significantly improve quality of life or prolong.
Avastin or bevacizumab is a drug made by Genentech. It is already approved by FDA for breast, lung, and colon cancers. This cancer treatment drug works by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) protein. In other words, it cuts blood supply to tumor and prevents tumor from growing fast and spreading in body.
Avastin is the most expensive cancer drug offered nowadays. It can cost up to $100,000 a year for a patients to take the necessary doses of the drug prescribed. Cancer drugs in general are the most commonly sold drugs after cholesterol-lowering drugs. According to IMS Health report, cancer drugs cost accounted $17.8 billion, compared to $286.5 billion of all drug costs during 2007. In 2007 spending on cancer drugs increased by 40%, which is pretty much.
Now researchers question if Avastin should be that expensive. The main question is does Avastin drug provide with enough quality of life improvement to have such a high price.
Before submitting the cancer drug for approval, Genentech conducted 450 clinical trials to see how Avastin affects 30 types of cancer. Now the company is studying the drug jointly with Roche and the National Cancer Institute to see if the drug can be also used for other cancer patients.
Currently, there are about 100,000 Americans using Avastin and these people are ready to pay for the drug, even if their insurers stop paying for it, because it is their last hope. However, looking at actual benefits provided by the drug, it becomes clear that the drug should not cost that much. Avastin use prolongs lifespan only by a few months (not more than 4 month), the drug doesn't really work for aggressive types of cancer, the drug just makes it easier to perform daily tasks without having too much pain.
However, whatever researchers and health officials say about quality-price comparison, cancer patients are still ready to pay for Avastin because they want to live with no pain and don't think about dying. About 5% of patients taking the drug, who have their lifes prolonged thanks to the drug, and all patients taking the drug actually hope they can be among this small number of lucky patients.