Despite Costs, Cancer Treatment Spending Moderates

Cancer treatments are evolving to work more effectively, but consequently, their costs are rising. In 2013, cancer medicine spending reached $91 billion globally-up from $71 billion in 2008.

Cancer treatments are evolving to work more effectively, but consequently, their costs are rising. In 2013, cancer medicine spending reached $91 billion globally—up from $71 billion in 2008. A report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics noted that cancer treatment costs continue to rise, despite the fact that the annual average increase in cancer drug spending over the past 5 years has decreased to 5.4% from 14.2% in 2008. Murray Aitken, executive director at IMS, said that cancer drug spending will likely be more than $100 billion, or 10% of worldwide prescription drug spending, within the next year.

Commercial insurance plans are part of the reason for rising costs because they are shifting higher co-pays and deductibles onto patients. Treatment can average $9000 per year for an insured patient. Higher co-pays also increase the likelihood that a patient will stop their course of treatment before it’s finished. The IMS report suggested that when a patient stops their cancer treatment, costs can jump 50%. Appropriate adherence to treatment regimens is crucial to the insurer as much as it is to patients’ outcomes.

“As the cancer patient population mix shifts from mature and developed markets to low- and middle-income countries, oncology is bringing higher levels of uncertainty to health systems across the globe—both in terms of the nature and rate of innovative treatments, and levels of reimbursement for patient care,” said Mr Aitken. “While an estimated 30 percent of cancers are preventable and early diagnosis and treatment can reduce or delay mortality significantly, the reality is that countries struggle to bring together the right combination of preventive measures and clinical interventions, including vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.”

Around the Web

Cancer Treatment Pricy but Spending is Moderating [Bloomberg Businessweek]

Cancer Drug Innovation Surges As Cost Growth Moderates [IMS Institute]