Cancer Drug Spending Reached $100 Billion Globally in 2014

Earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration, and increased effectiveness of cancer therapies all contributed to the constantly rising spending levels for these medicines.

Cancer drugs reached an impressive milestone in 2014: total global spending was at $100 billion for these therapies, according to a new report from IMS Health.

Earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration, and increased effectiveness of cancer therapies all contributed to the constantly rising spending levels for these medicines. In 2014, global spending increased 10.3%, increasing from $75 billion 5 years earlier. For the last 5 years, global spending on cancer drugs as grown at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5%.

In the United States, the rate was actually slightly lower at 5.3% over the last 5 years. However, the US continues to dominate the market, accounting for 42.2% of the total oncology spend.

“Innovative therapeutic classes, combination therapies and the use of biomarkers will change the landscape over the next several years, holding out the promise of substantial improvements in survival with lower toxicity for cancer patients,” Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a statement.

Over the last 5 years, targeted therapies have increased at a compound annual growth rate of 14.6%. These therapies now account for almost 50% of total spending.

Over the next 6 years, IMS expects to see a large number of combination therapies, mostly dominated by breast and hematology until 2018. However, the rising prevalence of these medicines will complicate access and reimbursement, according to the report.

Patient access to new medicines varies widely across major developed countries due to regulatory requirements, health system priorities, and budget constraints. In 2014, no country’s patients had access to all 37 new cancer drugs launched from 2009-2013, although the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom offer the broadest access.

In the US, cancer drug costs have increased due to both monthly prices and improving durations of therapy. Overall response rates in 2014 exceeded those in 2004 by 12 percentage points, meanwhile the average price per month increase 39% from $14,821 in 2004 to $20,700 in 2014.

“Measures of value continue to be tested by payers and providers who, in some health systems, most notably the U.S., have growing concerns about the financial burden faced by cancer patients,” the author’s wrote.