Two UK physicians, Alastair Munro and Paddy Niblock, write about the "political and moral consequences of the globalisation of research into cancer treatment" in the Lancet. This comes in response to another article in that journal from the ToGA trial that found that Herceptin along with chemotherapy increased survival time by a few months in patients with HER2-positive gastric cancer. The Guardian adds that "on the basis of the results, the European Medicines Agency has licensed Herceptin for this use." Munro and Niblock, however, question the cost, particularly in the countries where the trials took place. They calculate that the cost of Herceptin therapy to be nearly £14,000 per patient, but note that the yearly health expenditure per citizen of the countries in which the trial took place are much smaller, ranging from about £25 to around £3,000. This, they write, "reiterates the important moral question — what is the justification for introducing a treatment that might enable one individual to live a few months longer, but will consume, for each person treated, the total yearly health expenditure for scores of their fellow citizens?"
Price to Pay
Aug 20, 2010