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Cancer drug prices are so high that doctors will test cutting doses

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Some prominent cancer doctors plan to use clinical trials to show that many oncology medications could be taken at lower doses or for shorter periods without hurting their effectiveness. A pilot study by the group of doctors involving a widely prescribed drug for advanced prostate cancer.

Some prominent cancer doctors plan to use clinical trials to show that many oncology medications could be taken at lower doses or for shorter periods without hurting their effectiveness. A pilot study by the group of doctors involving a widely prescribed drug for advanced prostate cancer. Cutting the standard dose of abiraterone acetate (Zytiga—Janssen Biotech) by three-quarters was as effective as taking the full amount—as long as patients swallowed the medication with a low-fat breakfast rather than on an empty stomach, as directed by the label. "It's inefficient, even wasteful, to take this medicine while fasting," says University of Chicago oncologist Russell Szmulewitz. Reducing the dosage of the $9,400-a-month medication as studied would sharply lower costs even for well-insured patients, he says. Szmulewitz and others now want to run full trials to see whether the doses of other oral oncology drugs can be cut back because of the "food effect," which can alter how a medication is absorbed. They also plan to explore whether the duration of some prescriptions can be shortened and whether some cheaper non-cancer drugs can be substituted for expensive cancer ones. The doctors recently created a nonprofit organization, the Value in Cancer Care consortium, to organize their work.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/06/08/how-these-cancer-doctors-plan-to-reduce-patients-drug-costs-without-touching-prices/?utm_term=.a2f7ed317d98

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