The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2019. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

The price of cancer drugs does not appear to be associated with clinical benefit in the United States or in European countries, researchers reported at ESMO Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. In addition, the study findings demonstrated that cancer drug prices are significantly higher in the United States than in some European countries.

US Medicare recently proposed paying the same drug prices as the average prices paid by comparable countries. To investigate how this policy might affect drug prices, the researchers assessed the differences in price in the United States and European countries. Using the American Society of Clinical Oncology Value Framework v2 (ASCO VF) and the European Society for Medical Oncology Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale v1.1 (ESMO-MCBS), they evaluated the correlation between drug prices and clinical benefit.

The team identified all new drugs for adult solid and hematologic cancers approved by the FDA from 2009 through 2017 and the same agents approved by the EMA as of December 31, 2018. The researchers examined the ASCO VF and ESMO-MCBS scores for pivotal trials supporting solid tumor drugs. In cases of multiple trials, the team focused on the highest score.

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A total of 63 drugs were approved by the FDA and the EMA during the study period (46 drugs [73%] for solid tumors, and 17 drugs [27%] for hematologic malignancies). The researchers found that median cancer drug prices in Europe were 52% (interquartile range: 37% to 72%) lower than US prices. “There was no association between monthly treatment cost and ASCO-VF or ESMO-MCBS scores in any country,” noted the researchers.


Vokinger K, Hwang T, Tibau A, Rosemann T, Kesselheim A. Clinical benefit and prices of cancer drugs in the US and Europe. Presented at: ESMO Congress 2019; September 27-October1, 2019; Barcelona, Spain. Abstract 1631PD.