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January 2019

Pricing a Year of Progression-Free Survival: When Is the Cost of Cancer Drugs Unreasonable?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Dermatol. 2019;155(1):15-16. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.3753

What is a reasonable price for society to pay to give a patient with cancer 1 extra year of life without tumor growth?

Certainly not $2.2 million. According to Almutairi and colleagues,1 this is how much it would cost to add 1 good year of progression-free survival to a patient’s life using talimogene laherparepvec plus ipilimumab. The authors make a valuable contribution by rigorously applying the tools of cost-effectiveness analysis to understand whether novel but expensive treatments are really worth pursuing. The analysis suggests 3 important conclusions.

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