Mayo Clinic Study Finds Costs For Cancer Clinical Trials Comparable To Costs For Standard Treatment

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A Mayo Clinic study has found that the costs for clinical trials, the way cancer patients receive the most promising treatments today and which lead to promising new treatments for the future, are comparable to costs for standard treatment.

"The widely held view by third-party payers is that clinical trials are much more expensive than standard treatment," says Steve Alberts, M.D., Mayo Clinic oncologist and the study's principal investigator. "We now know that costs are not budget breaking. We hope this will encourage reimbursement by third-party payers, which will translate into better access to clinical trials for patients. This access in turn should lead to improved survival and quality of life for patients, and faster advancements in the search for new treatments for all cancers."

The study, to be published in the May 19, 1999, edition of Journal of the National Cancer Institute, finds that the costs of treating patients in clinical trials were modestly higher -- less than 10 percent higher -- than for treating patients who were eligible for the trials but opted for standard treatment. The average total five-year cost in 1995 inflation-adjusted dollars among trial enrollees was $46,424, compared with $44,133 for those who did not enter clinical trials.

Based on the study's findings, the authors recommend payment for patients' treatment in National Cancer Institute (NCI)-approved clinical trials.

The study is the first published of four similar studies. This study was undertaken because payment for care provided as part of clinical research has become more unpredictable due to managed care, and little was known about how entry into cancer clinical trials affects the costs of cancer for cancer patients.

This study is already having an impact on reimbursement as well as legislative policy. Mayo Health Plan, a health maintenance organization affiliated with Mayo Foundation, announced an agreement September 19,

Contact: Lisa Copeland or Tom Huyck
Mayo Clinic

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