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.

Do the new NCCN “Evidence Blocks” help patients?

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently released a treatment rating system they call Evidence Blocks for myeloma treatment. These grids add categories and definitions to the usual lists of recommended therapies provided by NCCN.

What is the value of treatment for individual cancer patients?

My last blog on the costs of drugs for the treatment of myeloma raised a number of issues for discussion, none more so than the heartfelt comment by Robert Fowler, who communicated to us his concerns about costs and the impact those costs may have on insurance for his fellow employees. Questions were also raised about the applicability of the “Value Framework” proposed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to the assessment of myeloma.

The Supreme Court reaffirms the Affordable Care Act, but the rising costs of cancer drugs are still a reality

The Supreme Court decision issued today means that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not derailed, and 6.5 million Americans do not drop off the benefit rolls. This is certainly good and helpful news, but does not alter the fact that our healthcare system is still in crisis mode.