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Oncology Drug Spending Soars

Most cancer treatments expected to have multiple indications by 2020

Total global spending on oncology medications –– including therapeutic treatments and supportive care –– reached the $100 billion threshold in 2014, whereas spending on oncology drugs in the U.S. increased at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% in 2014 to reach $42.4 billion, according to a new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The report notes that the pace of change in cancer care is accelerating. A cluster of innovative treatments, often combined with other new or existing medicines, and often associated with biomarkers, is emerging from the research-and-development pipeline. Many are for tumor types associated with low survival rates and where patients have limited options.

The changing treatment landscape is bringing new complexity to oncologists, payers, and governments who all look to provide appropriate care to patients while ensuring the sustainability of health care systems. In addition, earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration, and increased effectiveness of drug therapies are contributing to rising levels of spending on medications for cancer care, the report says.

In most instances, 5-year survival rates have risen through continuous and small improvements in detection and treatment –– including refinements with existing treatments and gains from new treatment options.

The report points out that the assessment of value for oncology products has become more complex as most products have multiple indications. Of 88 cancer drugs marketed in 2014, 40 were for single indications and 48 were for multiple indications. By 2020, the majority of cancer drugs will carry multiple indications, reflecting developers’ pursuit of genetic targets across multiple tumors, and the rise of immuno-oncologic agents, which may have more than six indications, the report predicts.

Sources: IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics; May 5, 2015; and Formulary Watch; May 5, 2015.


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