Cancer drug pricing in Europe

How do Euroepan countries reimburse for pharmaceuticals? A paper by Pauwels et al. (2014) provides an nice summary. I review that article today. With the exception of Germany, most countries had a national and/or regional drug budget.  Germany is also unique in that only Germany and the UK allow for free pricing, whereas other countries…

Measuring Quality in Cancer Care

Identifying high-quality, cancer care is a laudable goal.  However, a recent article by Alvarnas (2016) says the way many are trying to measure quality of cancer care currently is inadequate.  Specifically: Quality and value are multidimensional, but the narrow focus of many quality measures undermines their effectiveness and meaningfulness. (Porter 2010) Quality and value measures are all…

Patient perspective on cancer care funding

Improvement in survival (a.k.a. efficiacy) clearly are important, but what other factors matter?  According to a systematic literature review by MacLeod, Harris and Mahal (2016), these factors include: patients favour funding for cancer medicines that improve health outcomes demonstrated by ‘clinical efficacy’ [Oh et al.], ‘prolonged survival’ [Goldman et al., Seabury et al. Lakdawalla et al.] and/or…

Are expensive cancer drugs worth the money?

A paper by Sebastian Salas-Vega and Elias Mossialos attempts to answer this question looking at nine countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States) using data between 2004 and 2014.  They find that: All nine countries—most notably France and Japan—witnessed an improvement in neoplasm-related years of potential life lost,…

Will a robot conduct your next cancer screening?

Machine learning programs have made dramatic steps in recent years.  For instance, AlphaGo beat a world champion Go player recently.  Playing games is great, but can machine learning improve health care?  Science Daily reports that machine learning algorithms may help improve cancer screening accuracy. Every state in the United States requires cancer cases to be…

The value of surrogate endpoints for predicting real-world survival across five cancer types

You can find one of my recent papers measuring how well survival measures from clinical trials (i.e., overall survival, progression free survival, time to progression) translate into real-world survival outcomes in Current Medical Research and Opinion here.  The abstract is below.   Objective It is unclear how well different outcome measures in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) perform in…

How to cure cancer

Clinical progress against a disease as wily and dimly understood as cancer, DeVita argues, happens when doctors have the freedom to try unorthodox things—and he worries that we have lost sight of that fact. Excerpt from “Tough Medicine: A disturbing report from the front lines of the war on cancer” by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker.