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    Cancer Drug Spending Soars

    New therapies and increased awareness lead to a large market.


    Global spending on oncology drugs continues to soar as novel immuno-oncology drugs and other treatments have fueled a major shift in cancer treatment, according to a new report.

    Spending on oncology therapeutics and supportive care drugs rose globally from $107 billion in 2015 to $113 billion in 2016, according to the QuintilesIMS Institute report, “Global Oncology Trends 2017: Advances, Complexity and Cost”.

    In addition, total spending for cancer therapies worldwide is expected to exceed $147 billion by 2021. With projected growth of between 6% and 9% annually, spending on oncology therapies will likely outpace the 4% to 7% percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total global spending on medicines during the same period.

    Related article: Five Facts About U.S. Drug Spending

    The total global cost of cancer medicines rose at a CAGR of 8.7% during the past 5 years, “a noticeable increase” compared to the 4.9% growth recorded between 2006 and 2011, said QuintilesIMS Institute in a statement.

    “Patient cost share is an issue in the United States but every situation is different,” Michael Kleinrock, Director of Research Development for the QuintilesIMS Institute, told Drug Topics. The increase in drug spending from 2012 through 2016 is partially attributed to the earlier lull in new cancer drug development between 2007 and 2009, which affected 2006-2011 spending, Kleinrock said.

    Advances in personalized medicine and immuno-oncology have fueled a major shift in the treatment of cancer. Since 2011, 68 novel therapies have been approved across 22 cancer indications globally. New immuno-oncology drugs, such as Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) are some of the most notable developments, according to Kleinrock.

    “The launch of multiple novel agents, coupled with increasing awareness and focus on cancer prevention, and emphasis on early diagnosis, have contributed to improved outcomes and a reduction in mortality rates for many of the major cancers over the past decade,” said Murray Aitken, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the QuintilesIMS Institute.

    Related article: Health Spending to Reach Nearly 20% of GDP in 2025

    In addition, there are 631 unique molecule cancer drugs currently in the pipeline, a 7.7% increase from 2015. “During the past five years, clinical development has become more efficient with shortened research-cycle times—particularly within Phase 3 trials for new cancer medicines. That efficiency, coupled with continuing efforts to compress investigational timelines, signal faster review periods and greater availability of superseding treatments than ever before,” QuintilesIMS Institute said. 

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.


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