Study Finds Total Cost of Care for CAR-T, Post-Treatment Events Can Exceed $1 Million


During the initial CAR T-cell therapy period, the total cost of care ranged from $350,000 to more than $2 million.

Although the wholesale acquisition cost of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies to treat B-cell lymphoma is $373,000, a new study by Prime Therapeutics of real-world data found that the total cost averages more than $700,000 and can exceed $1 million in some cases.

These findings illustrate the need for payers to understand the financial impact of CAR T-cell therapies and the costs that arise from post-treatment cancer care, according to the study authors. Over 2.5 years, investigators analyzed 74 patients receiving treatment for B-cell lymphoma, performing an assessment first to evaluate the treatment episode costs beginning 30 days prior to CAR T administration and then to evaluate post-treatment clinical outcomes beginning 56 days after CAR T administration.

The researchers also looked at events patients experienced after receiving CAR T-cell therapy, such as chemotherapy and transplants, in order to form a more complete picture of the total B-cell lymphoma treatment course. The data showed than 39% of those studied did not have a durable CAR T response, with chemotherapy being the most common event (30%) and 1 in 20 going on to have a bone marrow transplant.

During the initial CAR T-cell therapy period, the total cost of care ranged from $350,000 to more than $2 million, according to the study. The cost for CAR T treatment medication alone was $527,000 on average—approximately 74% of the total cost during the initial treatment period. However, 12% of people with post-CAR T events had a total cost of care of more than $1 million, including drugs and other costs.

“CAR T therapies represent an incredible advancement in treating B-cell cancers,” said Joseph Leach, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Prime Therapeutics, in the press release. “Given the cost and toxicity of these treatments, we need better information to understand who derives durable benefit as well as how to best treat those who progress following therapy.”

Despite the high price of CAR T therapies in B-cell cancers, a 2018 Institute for Clinical and Economic Review found that they are priced in alignment with their clinical value. The report stated that the cost-effectiveness of both CAR T therapies fell near or within the commonly cited thresholds of $100,000 to $150,000 per quality-adjusted life years.

In the press release, the investigators noted that novel cancer treatments are steadily improving patient outcomes, although these improvements come with a steep price tag. In 2020 alone, the FDA approved 38 new oncology-related drugs, although little research has been done to investigate the costs of post-CAR T clinical events and their impact on total costs for patients with B-cell cancers, according to the study authors.


Prime Therapeutics’ study shows total cost of care for CAR-T plus post-treatment events can exceed $1 million [news release]. Prime Therapeutics; April 12, 2021. Accessed April 12, 2021.

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