Challenging Oncology Therapies With Moonshot Price Tags

A Q&A with Pramod John, PhD, CEO of VIVIO Health, a specialty drug management company in San Leandro, CA, that aims to provide better outcomes at lower costs; pramod@viviohealth.com

Originally published December 13, 2017

Q: Some American pharmaceutical companies are well-known for pricing drugs at “whatever the market will bear.” In oncology, some specialty drugs seem to have price tags completely unrelated to the proven effectiveness of the drug. Your company has been taking a lead in confronting this problem. What do you envision as possible solutions?

A: New oncology therapies carry astronomical price tags—most people know this. Receiving far less attention is the question of actual therapeutic value. Drug manufacturers spend billions on advertisements and PR, but unfortunately, real-world patient results are frequently unimpressive. Two recent articles in BMJ make this point, 1) No evidence of benefits for popular oncology therapies and 2) Do cancer drugs improve survival or quality of life? Continue reading…


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“Having cancer is bad enough. And the lifetime consequences have been well-documented — a higher risk of other cancers, heart disease and general weakness from the treatment.

“Now a new federal study shows there’s a financial burden too — on average, $4,000 a year for men and $3,000 for women over and above what people who haven’t had cancer spend.

“And that’s just direct medical costs. Cancer survivors also have thousands in lost productivity, from having to cut work hours or even quit their jobs, the report finds.”


What Cancer Costs You Later: $4,000 a Year

“Having cancer is bad enough. And the lifetime consequences have been well-documented — a higher risk of other cancers, heart disease and general weakness from the treatment.

“Now a new federal study shows there’s a financial burden too — on average, $4,000 a year for men and $3,000 for women over and above what people who haven’t had cancer spend.

“And that’s just direct medical costs. Cancer survivors also have thousands in lost productivity, from having to cut work hours or even quit their jobs, the report finds.”