US hospital says “no” to spiralling price of oncology drugs

In an op-ed in the New York Times on 14 September 2012, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center published the rationale for their decision not to give Sanofi and Regeneron’s new drug, Zaltrap, to their patients with colorectal cancer.

The authors cite the increased monthly cost of the new cancer drug (a whopping $11’063 per month) as the reason they won’t be using it.  This is more than double the cost of Avastin (Roche), but Zaltrap is no more effective.  In fact, when added to standard chemotherapy, either drug prolongs life by a median of 1.4 months – which frankly makes even Avastin’s price of around $5’000 per month difficult to justify!

As Medicare is legally obliged to supply any cancer drug approved by the FDA, there have been few limits to use of expensive new cancer treatments in the USA.  But this move by a leading cancer center may spell trouble ahead for drug developers counting on high prices in the oncology market in the future.  And the likelihood is high that other hospitals will also seize this opportunity to take action against drug makers that charge premium prices for new drugs with no evidence of superior efficacy.

Link to the NY Times article:  A Hospital Says ‘No’ to an $11,000-a-Month Cancer Drug –


US hospital says “no” to spiralling price of oncology drugs — 1 Comment

  1. Following the publication of the op-ed by Sloan-Kettering, John LaMattina published a really good follow-up article in Forbes blog, suggesting that physicians and patients aligning with payers could dramatically change the pricing landscape for pharma – even in rare diseases, where prices are highest.
    Link to the blog article