Attendees at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting discussed whether new immunotherapy drugs require different funding models to make them more accessible to people with cancer.
While some believe new models for drug subsidies are needed to keep up with the pace of rapidly evolving evidence to ensure patients can access drugs that offer hope, Dr Richard De Abreu Lourenco, from the University of Technology Sydney, argued that it’s not the process but our expectations of it that need to change.
His presentation used examples from the PBS listing of three immunotherapy drugs to argue that the need for the same level of evidence to ensure cancer drugs are effective, economically viable and safe remains – and that the current process for reimbursement is working.
“New cancer drugs are expensive, so at the prices being requested a need for strong evidence exists. We need to remember that changing the standard of evidence required could be harmful to the public, not just in terms of value for money, but also in terms of evidence around safety and effectiveness,” Dr De Abreu Lourenco said.
“Reviewing recent examples we can see that drugs do become subsidised when enough research exists. We need to continue to put a value on evidence – not just hope.”