Two different tales of reviewing drugs' cost-effectiveness from two sides of the pond

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On the Forbes blog this week:

“Dendreon shares are down today on the heels of news that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will undergo a lengthy review of whether or not Provenge “is reasonable and necessary under sections 1862(a)(1)(A) and/or 1862(a)(1)(E) of the Social Security Act” and should be reimbursed by Medicare.

Most analysts believe that Medicare will ultimately agree to pay for Provenge, because it’s FDA-approved, and it was shown to extend survival by 4 months in clinical trials.”

Meantime the UK’s Telegraph reports:


Kidney cancer patients denied drug that can extend their lives

Kidney cancer patients will not be allowed a new drug that could extend their lives by up to three months because it is too expensive, the NHS drug rationing body has said.

Four months added survival for one drug – and questions are raised about why the U.S. is even reviewing the drug.

Three months added survival for another drug – and the British National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence says the drug does not offer enough benefit to patients to justify the cost.

I wish we’d see more comparisons like this in American journalism. Both headlines – both stories – were right out there for anyone to see this week. The irony was unavoidable.

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Comments (2)

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Gentry Yeatman MD

July 4, 2010 at 10:39 am

Gary, bless you for your work. (My comments are about your articles general) I absolutely hate how journalists sensationalize medical research. It gives people false hope of research in its embryonic stages that may or may not pan out. It creates dangerous situations where people may avoid a proven and needed methodology when a single poorly designed study “contradicts” fact. Keep up the good work. It might be good to at some point to add what research does show in many of the areas discussed. I know that would be very time consuming and frequently there is not a clear answer.