"The widespread use of expensive cancer drugs to prolong patients’ lives by just
weeks or months was called into question by an article published Monday in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Crunching data from published
studies, the authors found that treating a lung-cancer patient with Erbitux, a
drug that costs $80,000 for an 18-week regimen, prolongs survival by only
1.2 months. Based on that estimate, extending the lives of the 550,000
Americans who die of cancer annually by one year would then cost $440 billion,
they extrapolated. How to control escalating spending on end-of-life care is one
of the thorniest questions facing lawmakers working on the overhaul of the U.S.
health-care system. Some countries, like the United Kingdom, agree to pay
for expensive drugs only if they meet a certain threshold of efficacy, but no
such rationing exists in the U.S."
"June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Eli Lilly & Co.’s tumor-fighter Erbitux doesn’t prolong lung cancer patients’ lives enough to justify its $80,000 cost, U.S. scientists said in commentary published today. Erbitux added to other cancer drugs extends survival about 1.2 months more than chemotherapy alone, making the price too high for a “marginal benefit,” commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said. Erbitux, which Lilly markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., generated $1.3 billion last year as treatment approved for other malignancies."