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Can we afford the cancer care of the future?
Date:5/26/2009

hich treatments to pay for and at what level, physicians who must offer guidance for their patients in choosing among treatments, including new drugs that might offer modest survival benefits but at significant additional cost, and the pharmaceutical industry, which hopes to earn a profit from the sale of innovative drugs that can cost $1 billion to research and develop.

Meropol observes that many of the costly new cancer drugs now coming to market are highly targeted in their action, often quite effective but only in a subset of patients. While these drugs anticipate the dream of personalized medicine, their high costs must be shared over a smaller potential pool of patients, perhaps threatening the future of this promising new direction in medicine.

Rising costs also have the potential to widen the disparities that already exist in cancer outcomes among different populations, adding an ethical dimension to the problem.

"Rising costs may be a key impediment to reaching our societal goal of providing high quality cancer care to all citizens," Meropol says. Going forward, the challenges in confronting the cost-of-cancer-care issue are substantial. Patients and their physicians both feel ill-equipped to consider treatment costs in the clinical setting, and society has yet to address this multifaceted issue in a comprehensive way. Still, Meropol says, we have no alternative but to begin the search for answers now. The increasing economic burden posed by cancer-care costs on patients and their families and on society is too great to ignore.


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Contact: Frank Hoke
Franklin.Hoke@fccc.edu
215-475-2888
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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