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Comparison of patients' access to new and better cancer drugs reveals inequalities between countries

er drugs with improved patient survival. Dr Wilking said: "Nearly half of the observed improvement in the two-year cancer survival rate between 1992 and 2000 at 50 USA cancer centres could be attributed to the use of newer cancer drugs. In 20 countries, including the USA and Europe, between 1995 and 2003, nearly a third of the reduction in cancer deaths could be accounted for by the use of newer drugs."

The authors called for action to end the inequalities. "It is our hope that this report will inspire policy makers and decision makers to take action to address these imbalances so that access to new innovative cancer drugs does not become dependent on the patient's country of residence," they said.

They pointed out that although cancer was second or third in terms of disease burden in most countries, the share of health care expenditure allocated to it was significantly lower than the share of the burden of the disease.

Dr Jnsson said: "Cancer accounts for about 5-6% of all health care expenditure and cancer drugs account for between 10-20% of this expenditure and just 5% of all drug costs. But cancer research continues to grow, with many new drugs and treatments expected to be introduced in the coming years. Countries need to address urgently how they are going to accommodate newer drugs into health care systems and pay for them."

Economic evaluation of new drugs and their cost effectiveness were becoming increasingly important, the authors said, with Europe and the UK in particular playing a leading role in the production of health technology assessments. In the UK these are produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). "It was the explicit objective at the establishment of NICE to avoid any significant delays to bringing innovations to market in the UK. There is yet no evidence that this objective is met," they report.

The report also highlights an imbalance in public investments
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
44-077-112-96986
European Society for Medical Oncology
9-May-2007


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