Global cancer spending tops $110 billion

By Barry Eitel


Annual global spending on cancer treatments has ballooned well above $100 billion, a report released Thursday said.

Around the world, the cost of cancer treatments, along with supportive drugs like anti-nausea medication, surged from $91 billion in 2012 to $113 billion in 2016, according to the report published by global health care policy analyst QuintilesIMS Institute. The U.S. accounted for 46 percent of the spending.

The cost of cancer medication appears to be accelerating. Between 2006 and 2011, costs grew approximately 4.9 percent each year, the report said, while growth between 2011 and 2016 was 8.7 percent. By 2021, analysts believe the cumulative cost of treatment will top $147 billion.

The firm believes advances in personalized cancer treatment is driving up costs and lengthening lives. Researchers said regulators across the world, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., have approved 68 novel cancer therapies since 2011.

“The launch of multiple novel agents, coupled with increasing awareness and focus on cancer prevention, and emphasis on early diagnosis, have contributed to improved outcomes and a reduction in mortality rates for many of the major cancers over the past decade,” QuintilesIMS’ Executive Director Murray Aitken said in a statement.

It appears regulators are reducing the amount of time it takes for cancer drugs to become publically available. QuintilesIMS found that in 2016, the median time for a drug company to file a patent to receiving approval was 9.8 years — down from 10.25 years in 2013.

The FDA launched an expedited development and review process for some cancer medications in 2012 and analysts believe the less burdensome regulatory environment is driving a sizable windfall for pharmaceutical companies.

By 2015, nearly 70 percent of drugs approved by the FDA went through an expedited process.

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