Are T-Cell Blood Cancer Therapies Worth the High Cost?

Analysts believe T-cell therapies must first show curative properties in blood cancer treatment to justify the price tag.

Recent clinical trials that evaluated T-cell therapy for blood cancer have still left unanswered questions regarding therapy cost and safety, according to research and consulting firm GlobalData.

T-cell therapy trials shown positive results that indicate this treatment may be the next big advancement in personalized immunotherapy. However, an analyst from GlobalData believes that the high price tag of T-cell therapies is a cause for concern.

The High Cost of Blood Cancer Treatment

“The cost of T-cell therapy is currently estimated at a staggering $300,000 per patient, with some estimates pegging the cost at over $500,000,” said GlobalData’s Analyst Cai Xuan, PhD. “Given this, T-cell therapies must show curative ability in order to justify such a high price tag in comparison to existing treatment options such as stem cell transplantation, which can cost from around $100,000 to $200,000.”

Xuan suggested that not enough work has been done to evaluate these therapies in a larger patient population to prove the potential of these drugs in a larger patient population.

“In order to do this, more trials must be conducted,” Xuan said. “To date, only a handful have gone ahead, in a limited number of patients, due to the high cost, as well as the long and difficult manufacturing processes involved in administering T-cell therapy. This presents a huge scalability problem which cannot easily be solved.”

Although there has been a limited amount of data released in regard to this therapy, there has still been fatal cases of tumor lysis syndrome, cytokine release syndrome, and other reported organ toxicities.

Poor safety reports is also an issue that holds significance, as Xuan believes that additional research needs to be conducted.

Can T-Cell Therapy Provide a Cancer Cure?

“The aggressive nature of T-cell therapy’s side effects means it is highly unlikely to replace current frontline therapy options,” Xuan said. “On top of this, the lack of long-term follow-up data presents the danger of additional long-term toxicities being revealed in the future.

“Data suggesting impressive remission rates of up to 90% in treated patients are preliminary, and it is still too early to tell if these remissions will turn into cures,” he continued. “T-cell therapy is undoubtedly a significant step forward for immunotherapy, but whether it will reach the status of a breakthrough cure remains to be seen.”