Costs of treating patients on clinical trials are not higher than costs of standard treatment, study suggests

The costs of treating cancer patients on clinical trials are not higher than the costs of standard treatment, according to a study sponsored by the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. The results of the study were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, La.

"Cancer clinical trial costs often are not reimbursed by Medicare or private insurers primarily because of concern that the costs of medical care for patients on clinical trials are much higher than the costs that are incurred for standard care in the clinical practice setting," said lead investigator Charles L. Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University, and director of health services research, VA Chicago Health Care System-Lakeside Division.

"Confirmation of the study's findings could result in access to the best cancer care available for patients who previously would have been denied," added Dr. Bennett.

The AACI/Northwestern-sponsored project evaluated the total direct medical charges for six months of care for 70 cancer patients at five AACI member cancer centers. Thirty-five patients who received care on phase II cancer clinical trials were matched based on age, gender, type of cancer, stage of the disease and treatment period to 35 control patients who received standard care. (A phase II clinical trial tests the safety of a drug and begins to evaluate how well a new drug works, and phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.) The average age of trial patients was 58.3 years versus 53.7 years for control patients for persons with cancer of the breast (24), lung (18), colon (16), prostate (4) and lymphoma (8). Seventy-five percent of the patients had advanced cancer, stage three to stage four

Contact: Maureen Pfeifer
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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