Increasingly here (as has long been the case in EU countries), United States journals are explicitly highlighting the cost v. benefit of new drugs -- even when the study results are overwhelmingly positive. Tonight, it is an editorial in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine -- looking askance at a study it published in the very same issue. The drug is Arixtra®, the maker is GlaxoSmithKline, and here is the New York Times' Duff Wilson -- covering it all -- do go read his:
. . . .But the study did not talk about the costs, they wrote, which could range from $2,124 to $7,380 per person for 45 days of injections, or at least $186,000 for 88 people to avoid one new problem.
“The paradox is, it’s effective, but for a condition that’s usually not considered an overwhelmingly serious medical problem,” Dr. Goldman said in an interview. “The fact that it’s a medicine that’s expensive really raises an issue, not just for this trial, but we tried to make the point more broadly.”
Cost-effectiveness researchers in America have benchmarks that suggest that “good value for the money” is $50,000 per added year of high-quality life, Dr. Resch said. In some cases, where cheaper treatments are unavailable, up to $120,000 per added year have been suggested, he said. . . .
Plainly, this is a discussion we really should be having about all drugs -- not just the newest ones (think Merck's Vytorin®, here).