ASCO 2016: More excitement about daratumumab (Darzalex®), and tremendous interest in value and costs

As usual, far fewer myeloma-related abstracts will be presented at this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) than are presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) each December.  However, there is quite a bit of excitement about the results of the phase III CASTOR study to be presented at the Plenary session on Sunday, June 5. This randomized trial compares daratumumab plus bortezomib (Velcade® - [V])/ dexamethasone [d] versus Vd alone. Since this is a “late-breaking” plenary abstract, the abstract is not being released until Sunday, June 5th at 7:30 am (EDT). However, the positive interim results were provided in a press release on March 30, 2016. Beyond this abstract, the other interesting aspect of this year’s ASCO meeting is

The value of a year of life and the ICER report

The heated discussions about a report on the value of myeloma drugs issued by the Institute of Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) have brought into focus the pricing of a year of life. New York Times blogger Susan Gubar, diagnosed with cancer in 2008, has faced the challenges of paying for her treatments and care. Despite an excellent job and good benefits, she learned the hard way about the “financial toxicity of cancer treatments.” She was shocked to discover that the value of one year of her life was between $50,000 and $150,000, as discussed in a New England Journal of Medicine article, “Updating Cost-Effectiveness.” This is the value of a QALY: quality adjusted life-year.

Myeloma Experts, Not Bureaucrats, Should Create Treatment Recommendations for Patients

In my previous blog, I wrote about the myeloma drug cost assessment report drafted by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER). The potential contents of the ICER report continue to raise eyebrows—and considerable ire—among patients, who worry the report’s findings will limit treatment access. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) expressed its concern here.

ICER Report: Could a flawed approach to cost-effectiveness assessment put patients at risk?

Until earlier this year I was unfamiliar with ICER (Institute for Clinical and Economic Review). Then, I started to read reports about the methodological flaws and factual errors in the institute’s recently released report, “Treatment Options for Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma: Effectiveness and Value.”  Critics of the 138-page cost-effectiveness assessment called it “spurious,” “misleading,” and pointed to the report’s “invalid results.” Strong words indeed.

iStopMM (Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma) really will stop myeloma for a whole country—Iceland!

As announced this week, the IMF is funding the iStopMM (Iceland Screens Treats or Prevents Multiple Myeloma) study, an exciting new addition to the portfolio of more than 35 Black Swan Research Initiative® (BSRI®) projects. Dr. Sigurdur Kristinsson (University of Iceland) is the lead investigator.

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