Top 5 facts about cancer drug costs

June 3, 2016

The global oncology market was worth $107 billion in 2015, and global annual cancer drug costs surged by 11.5% from 2011 to 2015, according to a new report.

The global oncology market was worth $107 billion in 2015, and global annual cancer drug costs surged by 11.5% from 2011 to 2015, according to a new report.

Here are the top five facts to know about oncology drug spending from the Oncology Trend Report: A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020, released by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics:

1. Spending on cancer drugs in the United States rose 2% to 13.9% from 2011 to 2015. As a result, cancer drugs now make up 11.5% of total drug costs, up from 10.5% in 2011. However, pricing concessions by manufacturers—including mandatory and negotiated rebates, discounts and patient cost offsets—are reducing manufacturer-realized net sales across many markets.

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2. Annual global growth in the oncology drug market is expected to be 7.5% to 10.5% through 2020, reaching $150 billion. “Wider utilization of new products—especially immunotherapies—will drive much of the growth, offset by reduced use of some existing treatments with inferior clinical outcomes,” IMS Institute said. “Payers also are expected to tighten their negotiation stance with manufacturers and adopt new payment models in an effort to drive greater value from their expenditures on these drugs.

3. Average total treatment costs for US patients in commercial insurance plans with a cancer diagnosis who are receiving active treatment reached $58,000 in 2014, up 19% from 2013. Patients with commercial insurance who were treated in 2014 with cancer drugs received by injection or infusion were responsible for more than $7,000 of costs on average, compared to $3,000 for those patients receiving only oral medicines.

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4. The global pipeline of oncology drugs in clinical development has expanded by more than 60% during the past decade, with almost 90% of the focus on targeted agents. The median time from patent filing to approval for oncology drugs in 2015 was 9.5 years, down from 10.3 years in 2013. “A series of initiatives, including the FDA Breakthrough Therapy designation introduced in 2012, may be contributing to the reduction. In the past 3 years, 3 molecules were approved within 4 years of patent registration,” IMS Institute said.

5. In the United States, cancer drugs dispensed through retail channels now account for more than one-third of total costs, up from 25% 10 years ago. “This reflects a shift in the mix of new therapies toward oral medicines, eliminating the need for injection or infusion in a physician’s office or outpatient facility,” IMS Institute said. Nearly 40% of the total costs of targeted therapies in the US are now for oral formulations, up from 26% in 2010.

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