William C. Broderick, MS, MBA




How Do Medical and Pharmacy Directors Perceive the Value of New Cancer Drugs?

April 17, 2009

A total of 50 health care professionals, including 25 health plan medical directors, 20 health plan pharmacy directors, and 5 pharmacy directors for pharmacy benefit management companies were surveyed regarding their perceptions of the value of 3 novel cancer therapies. The physicians and pharmacists were asked to estimate the monthly average wholesale price of each therapy, overall survival benefit of bevacizumab for treatment of persons with advanced colorectal cancer and erlotinib for treatment of persons with non–small-cell lung cancer, and progression-free survival benefit of sunitinib malate for treating persons with advanced renal cell carcinoma. Most respondents overestimated drug costs and underestimated survival benefit associated with these treatments. Mean incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for all drugs studied was approximately $170,000/quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). Cost-effectiveness ratios were lower than the $300,000/QALY cited by oncologists in another study but significantly higher than those for many other costly interventions. Our study findings reflect the need for a better understanding of the value of the clinical benefits of novel cancer therapies in an environment of product innovation but with resource constraints. (Drug Benefit Trends. 2009;21:120-130)