[Ip-health] Robert Pear in NYT: Medicare, Reversing Itself, Will Pay More for an Expensive New Cancer Drug

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Sun Aug 9 12:14:52 PDT 2015


Medicare, Reversing Itself, Will Pay More for an Expensive New Cancer Drug
AUG. 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has decided that Medicare will pay
for one of the newest, most expensive cancer medications, which costs about
$178,000 for a standard course of treatment.


In a preliminary decision in April, the Obama administration said it did
not intend to pay extra for Blincyto because clinical studies were “not
sufficient to demonstrate” that it substantially improved the treatment of
Medicare patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood
and bone marrow. Medicare officials said Amgen’s application was based on
data from “a small sample group of patients whose age demographic is much
younger than the age demographic of eligible Medicare beneficiaries.”

But in a final rule to be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 17, the
administration says it received “additional information and input” from
Amgen and other experts and now agrees with their arguments.

Blincyto “is not substantially similar” to other drugs available to
leukemia patients, the administration said, and it “represents a
substantial clinical improvement over existing treatment options.”


. . Amgen said the price would be about $178,000 for the recommended two
28-day cycles of treatment, each followed by a two-week break.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation released last month found that 94
percent of Democrats and 84 percent of Republicans support allowing the
federal government to negotiate with drug makers to get lower prices on
medications for those beneficiaries.


James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile:
+41.76.413.6584, twitter.com/jamie_love

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