Huge investment in cancer drugs leads to £14 billion net benefit for UK patients

Huge investment in cancer drugs leads to £14 billion net benefit for UK patients

Huge investment in cancer drugs leads to £14 billion net benefit for UK patients

The FINANCIAL -- The UK has more than doubled its spending on cancer drugs over the past decade, leading to a £14 billion (2014 GBP) net economic benefit in terms of increased life outcomes for cancer patients, according to new research published on May 3 by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

The study, published in Health Affairs, compared cancer drug spending in nine developed countries between 2004 and 2014, showing health improvements across the board, as well as a sharp increase in the cost of drugs.

The UK recorded a 7 percent compounded annual average growth rate in cancer drug spending over the 10-year period (tied with Germany for the highest increase), attributed to price increases in both brand-name and generic medicines, as well as an increase in the incidence-adjusted volume of consumption of generic medicines.

The LSE authors of the study – Professor Elias Mossialos and Sebastian Salas-Vega – also examined cancer-related treatment outcomes and value obtained in nine countries: the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

The authors found a wide variation in how cancer patients in the different countries benefitted from their cancer drug care. At the extreme, Japan obtained close to seven times as much return in health gain per dollar spent on cancer drugs as the United States.

Net returns from oncology care amounted to a total of £164 billion in 2014 across the nine countries under base case assumptions, with Japan obtaining a net positive return of £52 billion, Germany £27 billion, France £21 billion and the US £21 billion.

The UK witnessed the fourth largest improvement in cancer-related mortality of all the countries examined and, on an incidence-adjusted basis, outspent most other countries on generic drugs in 2014 (except the US). 

With the notable exception of Australia – which witnessed the slowest rate of growth in number of available molecules – cancer drug availability in all the study countries has moved towards parity with the US, the authors found.

“Net economic value derived from cancer drug expenditures appears to have remained positive. All nine countries – most notably France and Japan – witnessed an improvement in neoplasm-related years of potential life list, which suggests that although the costs of drugs have risen, their therapeutic benefits have increased as well,” the authors said.