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May Health Affairs: Value of cancer drugs in 9 countries

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The May issue of Health Affairs includes a study examining real-world cancer drug consumption in nine countries. The authors, Sebastian Salas-Vega and Elias Mossialos, both with the London School of Economics and Political Science, compared the value in lives saved for cancer drug spending in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, for the years 2004-14. The authors found a wide variation in how cancer patients in the different countries benefited from their cancer drug care, with the United States spending more than any of the other countries and witnessing one of the smallest improvements in cancer-related mortality. Assigning a conservative value for extended life-years, the authors calculated a $32.6 billion net positive return from cancer drug care in the United States in 2014 under base-case assumptions. While net returns from cancer drug care remain positive under most circumstances, the authors also found that the United States obtains a lower return per cancer drug dollar spent on individual patients than in the other countries analyzed.

"Net economic value derived from cancer drug expenditures appears to have remained positive," the authors concluded. "All nine countries–most notably France and Japan–witnessed an improvement in neoplasm-related years of potential life lost, which suggests that although the costs of drugs have risen, their therapeutic benefits have increased as well." The authors believe their findings suggest that there is an opportunity to improve value in the US oncology drug market.

Also of interest in the issue:

Abstinence Funding Was Not Associated With Reductions In HIV Risk Behavior In Sub-Saharan Africa; Nathan Lo of Stanford University School of Medicine, and coathors.

PEPFAR Investments In Governance And Health Systems Were One-Fifth Of Countries' Budgeted Funds, 2004-14; Corrina Moucheraud of the University of California, Los Angeles, and coauthors.

Improving Health Care Coverage, Equity, And Financial Protection Through A Hybrid System: Malaysia's Experience; Ravindra Rannan-Eliya of the Institute for Health Policy (Sri Lanka), and coauthors.

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Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers and health policy briefs published regularly on its website. You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download monthly Narrative Matters podcasts on iTunes. Tap into Health Affairs content with the iPad app.

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Sue Ducat
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