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The Hospital That Refused To Carry An Expensive Drug -- And Why

04/03/13

  04:25:27 pm, by MedBen5   , 255 words,  
Categories: Prescription, Health Plan Management

The Hospital That Refused To Carry An Expensive Drug -- And Why

David Kesterbuam of NPR shares the story of a hospital that dared to say “no” to a pricey new cancer drug, for a simple – and perfectly logical – reason:

“Last year, a new drug called Zaltrap was approved as a kind of last-chance therapy for patients with colorectal cancer. Studies suggested Zaltrap worked almost exactly as well as an existing drug called Avastin. In fact, the main difference between the two drugs seemed to be the price.

“‘I was rather stunned,’ Dr. Leonard Saltz, who specializes in colorectal cancer, told me.

“Zaltrap costs about $11,000 per month — about twice as much as Avastin, Saltz said.

“Saltz and his colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York made what seemed like a very reasonable decision: The hospital would not stock the more expensive drug. But taking cost into account for a new cancer drug was a very unusual decision for the hospital.

“‘There was a lot of angst over it, simply because it had never been done before’ at Sloan-Kettering, Saltz says.

“It was such a big deal that he and a few of his colleagues decided to write an op-ed about their decision in the
New York Times. The op-ed ran under the headline ‘In Cancer Care, Cost Matters.’ Peter Bach, one of the doctors who co-authored the op-ed, braced for the reaction.

“‘I admit to clutching my chair as it went up,’ he says. ‘But, you know, [the response] was really uniformly positive.’”

Read more at the NPR website.

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