Author Affiliations: Department of Health Policy and Management, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed in late March that Medicare cover sipuleucel-T, a new therapy for patients with terminal prostate cancer. Three independently conducted randomized controlled trials found that sipuleucel-T extends survival by 3 to 5 months. But the price is $93 000 for a course of therapy.1 It is probably pure coincidence that the announcement occurred as Congress was locked in intense negotiations over the budget, but few recent developments better symbolize the challenges facing lawmakers who want to rein in Medicare spending.
Howard DH. Realigning Incentives for Developing and Pricing New Anticancer Treatments. JAMA. 2011;305(22):2347-2348. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.793