Current Events

Avastin: Worth the price?

The New York Times (“The evidence gap“) has a great article about the high-priced cancer drug Avastin.  Avastin treats patients with advanced forms of cancer by cutting of blood supply to the cancerous tumors.  The cost-effectiveness of Avastin has been cast in doubt.

Roy Vagelos, a former chief executive of Merck who is considered an elder statesman of the industry, said in a recent speech that he was troubled by a drug, which he would not name but which was a clear reference to Avastin, that costs $50,000 a year and adds four months of life. ‘There is a shocking disparity between value and price,” he said, “and it’s not sustainable.’

Some patient advocates are also troubled by very expensive treatments like Avastin coming into routine use on what they see as little more than a hope and an expensive prayer.