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European concern for accessibility to cancer drugs grows

The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) expressed great concern regarding accessibility to cancer drugs at the XXI World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, which took place in Barcelona at the beginning of July.

The multidisciplinary team of digestive tumors at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid designed a simple mathematical formula that shows that the cost per month of life gained is nothing in comparison with the magnitude of clinical benefit.

The authors believe that the impact of this study in the media is closely related to the interest in and current concern about accessing technological innovation rapidly, addressing costs in the most rational way possible. That is why an analysis of this type should be addressed with the involvement of a large team of professionals where all voices are heard, that is, not only oncologists, but also radiation therapists, surgeons and pharmacists.

When it comes to rationalizing a disease as complex as cancer, we all have something to contribute. We are certain at this point in time that there is no clear relationship between the cost of drugs and the benefit they provide. Rather, it would seem the cost of these drugs is related to the type of medication they are: monoclonal, immunomodulators, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and so on.

In my opinion, we are approaching a new ‘industrial revolution’ that will be led by knowledge and research. This development will lead to the emergence of drugs with increasingly high degrees of complexity and mechanisms of action that will make our current measuring systems obsolete. For that reason, the selection of drugs will be influenced by personalized factors where a multitude of tools (among which are the economic factors and the degree of clinical benefit) help us make truly personalized decisions.


Dr. Jose Maria Vieitez, Head of the Gastrointestinal Tumor Section