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Cancer Drugs Emerging as Top Driver of Specialty Drug Spending
Date:10/8/2009

ing 66 percent, up from 50 percent between 1975-77.

Nearly all the cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the last four years have cost more than $20,000 for a twelve-week course of therapy, while some individual treatments can cost $10,000 per month. Oncology drugs are projected to account for 9 percent of all prescription pharmaceutical spending growth between 2009 and 2011.

To help manage the drug spend in the biotech drug category, in which many of the cancer treatments reside, a regulatory pathway to make lower-cost, generic versions - biosimilars - of these drugs is now under consideration in Congress. If approved, generic biotech drugs could lead to significant savings once the original brand drug loses patent.

Breast cancer drugs to hit market

Many oncology agents in late stage clinical development and several expected to receive approval in 2010 or 2011 will likely have a significant effect on specialty drug spending. Breast cancer could have an array of new treatments, including vandetanib (Zactima(TM)), motesanib, lonafarnib (Sarasar®), and pazopanib. Several of these drugs may be initially approved for other forms of cancer.

Supportive Care

Supportive care therapies that help manage the side effects of other cancer treatments represent a considerable share of cancer-related drug costs. In the case of side effects from breast cancer treatment, several treatments that suppress estrogen can contribute to the risk for osteoporosis, and oral or injectable osteoporosis drugs can reduce the risk of skeletal problems and bony metastasis. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can create additional side effects and new drugs have entered the market to treat those problems. Drugs to treat anemia and neutropenia, both side effects associated with chemotherapy, have been on the market for years. However, supportive care therapies need speci
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SOURCE Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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