Advances in cancer therapeutics and patient access to new drugs
Lubbe, Martie S.
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Globally, there are approximately 7.4 million cancer deaths annually, approximately 13% of deaths from all causes. Cancer is a disease of older people and, as the population ages over the next 10–20 years, we can expect an increase in the cancer incidence. Encouragingly, cancer mortality has stabilized in many countries. Part of this success may be attributed to the development of new cancer agents, collectively called ‘targeted therapies’, that are more specific to key components of tumour growth. Worldwide, however, one of the main factors that limit patient access to these important new drugs is their cost, which is higher than traditional chemotherapy. In this review, the clinical and pharmacoeconomic data of selected targeted agents are discussed. In the second part of this article, the challenges faced by healthcare systems in making such drugs available to patients is reviewed. Current strategies used by many countries around the world to manage cancer drug budgets are presented, along with a proposed approach using pharmacoeconomic methodology that may increase patient access.