But in all those cases, the incidence was lower than 5 percent, Paz-Ares said.
According to Lilly, the cost of Alimta varies depending up on the patient's size but is about $4,000 per cycle wholesale.
When asked if oncologists would be likely to prescribe this medication given the possibly prohibitive cost, Dr. Mark G. Kris, moderator of the press conference and chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said that he thought they would, at least for patients in which the drug worked and was tolerable.
"The benefit would be worth the spending for people who get a benefit," he said.
Ready believes that doctors' willingness to use the drug will ultimately depend on seeing the overall survival results which, said Paz-Ares, "may be available in the near future."
The American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, killing more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. The chance that a man will develop lung cancer is about one in 13; for a woman, about one in 16. While the estimates include both smokers and non-smokers, for smokers the risk is much higher.
Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on lung cancer.
SOURCES: Neal Ready, M.D., Ph.D., professor, medicine, Duke Cancer Institute, Durham, N.C.; June 5, 2011, news conference with Luis Paz-Ares, M.D., Ph.D., chair, oncology, Seville University Hospital, Seville, Spain; Mark G. Kris, M.D., chief of the Thoracic
All rights reserved