Five Years of Cancer Drug Approvals: Innovation, Efficacy, and Costs | Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology | JAMA Oncology | JAMA Network
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Research Letter
July 2015

Five Years of Cancer Drug Approvals: Innovation, Efficacy, and Costs

Author Affiliations
  • 1Medical Oncology Service, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(4):539-540. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.0373

The price of cancer drugs has risen, drawing criticism from leading academics.1,2 The annual cost of a new cancer medication now routinely exceeds $100 000, and medical bills have become the single largest cause of personal bankruptcy.2 Although some contend that the high cost of drugs is required to support research and development efforts,3 the fact remains that when costs and revenues are balanced, the pharmaceutical industry generates high profit margins.4

High profits may be justified if novel products offer significant benefits to patients (thus producing indirect economic value through the patients’ restored health) or if they represent significant pharmacologic advances over their predecessors—offering new mechanisms of actions and emblematic of high-risk research. We investigated whether novelty of medications or their relative benefits affected drug pricing.