A new report shows that most new anticancer drugs don’t extend survival, causing frustration to patients who shelled out thousands of dollars for treatment.
Many of these anticancer drugs are very expensive.
A report published
in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery showed that many new anticancer drugs do little to improve survival. Many of these drugs were approved on the market on the basis that they were found to improve survival rates, not heal cancer. However, the study showed that most of these new drugs extended life only by 10 weeks.
The question is not why these drugs did not work, but rather, why these drugs are approved for treatment.
Many of these drugs were approved on a ‘fast-track basis’ by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is a response to the clamor of patients to have better access to new drugs. As detailed in the report
by Ars Technica, the approval processes and clinical trials for these drugs were faster. Many of them were also approved based on ‘cross-over’ trials, where the control group was switched to treatment once the data showed that the drug caused some results.
Many of these drugs were also trialed using survival rates and were used as the basis for approval. In other words, there is significant misrepresentation
regarding the drug’s labeled effect versus the actual effect. The small, almost insignificant, gains were pursued by drug companies and used as a basis that their new drug ‘works.’
In addition to not improving survival, many of these new drugs have powerful and life-threatening side effects. Some of them have side effects such as kidney or liver failure, heart attack, dangerous hypertension, diarrhea, or have life-changing effects such as memory loss, sleep disturbances, and fatigue. Significant numbers of patients actually die from side effects of the drugs rather than from cancer. If they somehow survived, evidence shows they often will not live long.
Lastly, many of these drugs are costly. Newly approved drugs for cancer are among the most expensive drugs in the world. Here are some examples of treatment costs
The costs of these drugs are often astronomically high, but are they really worth it?
- Xofigo, for late-stage prostate cancer that has spread to the bones, costs around $12,660 per month
- Cymranza, for stomach and lung cancer, costs $13,260 a month.
- Zykadia, for a rare type of aggressive lung cancer, costs $13,680 monthly.
- Lenvima, for thyroid cancer, costs $13,950 a month.
None of these drugs were proven to kill cancer cells or reduce tumors.
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