The Cost of Treating Cancer

Specialty Pharmacy Times, May/June, Volume 9, Issue 3

Welcome to the eighth annual Specialty Pharmacy Times® oncology issue in which we devote an entire edition of the journal to the challenges and progress associated with treating cancer in the specialty space. As we have expanded our audience to include market access professionals and top decision makers from the payer arena, this edition includes a greater focus on the implications of treating cancer on our current health care infrastructure.

As we have previously covered in this journal, cancer survival rates are improving at a pace that suggests the future of cancer treatment may start to become similar to the treatment and management of other long-term chronic conditions. Oncology patients on new immunotherapies have demonstrated 3- to 5-year survival rates and 30% remissions, which represents remarkable progress that is likely to improve with the launch of other promising new therapies. This dramatic shift in survival will have a massive effect on payers and will shed new light on the value of these treatments in extending the lives of patients, which is immeasurable.

In this issue, we delve deep into the challenging discussions that surround paying for cancer treatment. On page 30, Ira Studin, PhD, MPH, notes the economics of late-line oncology treatment translate to higher drug costs and more pronounced cost pressure. The article also discusses the hurdles that accompany the industry-wide shift to value-based care in terms of the oncology landscape. Although discussions about the value of a life-saving treatment are difficult, as noted by Dan Leonard of the National Pharmaceutical Council in his latest article on page 14, breakthrough medications can only work in patients who are able to access them, and most value-based frameworks are unable to balance how they evaluate treatment costs with the consideration of benefits to patients and their families.

Also in this issue, Kelly Ratliff takes a look at the importance of collaboration to improve adherence to oral oncology therapy regimens on page 16, and Ron Lanton discusses the revolutionary developments in harnessing the immune system to attack cancer via chimeric antigen receptor T—cell therapy in his latest Viewpoints column on page 10.

As always, the latest developments in oncology and other areas of specialty health care will be covered extensively in Specialty Pharmacy Times® via our print journal, daily news website, e-newsletters, and on mobile devices.

Our sister publications OncologyLive® (OncLive.com) and CURE® (curetoday.com), and our other oncology-focused publications will also continue to bring leading commentaries and news from the physician side of this fast-paced environment. 

Mike Hennessy, SrChairman & CEO