When I opened facebook this morning, I learned that a colleague of mine, Jeff Conant, had died from infection complications after his first chemo treatment for ALL. Shock, despair for his family (who I don't know too well, except from sitting in Viking stadium together when Davis and his son, Scotty, played JV soccer together), and sadness followed in rapid succession. The fast boil didn't come until a couple of hours later, when my feeder reader sent me this blog entry from the Wall Street Journal's blog on health and the business of health by Shirley Wang:
Amid much discussion around comparative effectiveness of medical treatments and whether cost should be a factor in treatment decisions, a new article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimates it would cost $440 billion to extend life by one year for the 550,000 Americans who die annually of cancer, reports the WSJ.
The authors, from the National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health, say that 90% of cancer drugs approved in the past four years cost more than $20,000 for 12 weeks worth of treatment.
Some drugs have limited upsides, and these shouldn’t be developed unless they will cost patients less than $20,000 for a standard course, they say. Two more recommendations from the authors: doctors shouldn’t prescribe cancer medicines for non-approved purposes, and new medicines with marginal benefits shouldn’t be used for those with advanced cancer.
If you have someone special who has died from cancer, re-read this last paragraph. Then scream. I'll have to think about what we should do after we scream. Any suggestions?