Cost of pancreatic cancer care reduced by the introduction of new medicines
Results from a health economic outcomes study reveal that the introduction of more effective prescription drug therapies is having such a great therapeutic benefit, it is actually driving a decrease in the total cost of healthcare for pancreatic cancer patients.
Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates among the different cancer types; there is still a great unmet need for treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients. Research into new and effective therapeutics is ongoing, but at what cost? In this study, researchers carrying out a health economic outcomes study at the Virginia Mason Medical Center (WA, USA) analyzed longitudinal patient-level data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to determine how the introduction of new, effective therapeutics for pancreatic cancer patients affects the overall healthcare cost of treating these patients. The results, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2020 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium (23–25 January; San Francisco, CA, USA), reveal that the introduction of more effective prescription drug therapies is having such a great therapeutic benefit, it is actually driving a decrease in the cost of healthcare for pancreatic cancer patients.
With a 2.9% 5-year survival rate, advanced pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate among all cancer types. Pancreatic cancer is relatively uncommon, contributing to only 2.1% of all new cancer diagnoses each year, yet it is still the third most common cause of cancer deaths for men and women. The reason for this is that pancreatic cancer is particularly difficult to treat, with its often-late detection date, problematic location and its multiple levels of therapeutic resistance. Therefore, the development of new therapeutics for pancreatic cancer are still very much ongoing, but at what cost?
Real-world patient data is increasingly being used by health technology assessment programs to compare the introduction of novel therapeutics and the total costs of care. This study aimed to understand better how the introduction of new effective therapeutics for pancreatic cancer patients affects the overall healthcare cost of treating the patients, by employing real-world data.
Researchers analyzed longitudinal patient-level data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey on 80 diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients that had their prescription data available. For the period between 2009 and 2016, total healthcare costs were averaged, including prescription drug costs, which included the approval and use of FOLFIRNOX, erlotinib and (nab)-paclitaxel (Abraxane). The effect of inflation was considered and all expenditures were adjusted accordingly using the 2012 USD rate.
The results from this study suggest that the introduction of more effective prescription drug therapies is having such a great therapeutic benefit, it is driving a decrease in the total cost of healthcare for pancreatic cancer patients due to lower non-drug related spending.
The director of the Pancreaticobilliary Program, Vincent Picozzi, at the Floyd & Delores Jones Cancer Institute at the Virginia Mason Medical Center commented: “The value of advancing treatments is apparent from our total cost of care analysis looking at both medical and pharmacotherapy costs. Our study looked at treatment inflation-adjusted expenses per patient for pancreatic cancer care between 2009 and 2016 and found that for every additional [US]$1 spent on drugs for pancreatic cancer, there was a reduction in non-drug spending of [US]$9.”
This preliminary study was limited by a small sample size, however, the trends that this study suggests are very clear. Therefore, further analysis of a larger, longitudinal set of patient-level data is needed to fully explore this relationship between total cost of care and drug spending.
To conclude, this study suggests that it is essential to continue the efforts into the development of more effective therapeutics for pancreatic cancer patients. In doing so, we may be able to further decrease the total healthcare costs.
In line with this, Tyme Technologies (NY, USA), an emerging biotechnology company, is developing cancer metabolism-based therapies (CMBTs). CMBTs work by taking advantage of a cancer cell’s innate metabolic weakness target leading to cancer cell death through oxidative stress and exposure to the body’s natural immune system. Tyme Technologies’ current lead investigational CMBT is SM-88. In this initial study, it found that SM-88 was relatively well tolerated among pancreatic cancer patients and showed encouraging efficacy in Part I of the TYME-88-Panc study.
There is still an unmet need for treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer. With new therapeutics like SM-88 being developed, it may not only drive down the overall cost of healthcare, but may also improve the lives of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.