New drugs associated with a 29% reduction in cancer deaths in Spain in a single year

A study by Professor Lichtenberg of Columbia University attributes up to 96% of the increase in life expectancy in cancer patients and a high degree of cost-effectiveness to the new drugs

Profesor Lichtenberg

Source: abc.es

A study by Professor Lichtenberg, from Columbia University, attributes up to 96% of the increase in life expectancy in cancer patients and a high degree of cost-effectiveness to the new drugs.

The American expert, an international reference in the study of the added value of medicines, anticipates the results of an analysis of oncological medicines in Spain at the 1st High Level Forum on Medicines and the social value of investing in health. Professor Frank Lichtenberg during his presentation at the forum organised by Farmaindustria.

Investment in research and development of new drugs is linked to a direct benefit for patients’ health, but also to a reduction in costs that benefits the system and society in general. One of the leading experts in this field is the economist Frank R. Lichtenberg, who presented the main conclusions of a study on cancer treatment in Spain at the 1st High Level Forum on Medicines and the social value of investing in healthcare, organised yesterday and today in Madrid by Farmaindustria.

Investment in research and development of new drugs is linked to a direct benefit for patients’ health, but also to a reduction in costs that benefits the system and society in general. One of the leading experts in this field is the economist Frank R. Lichtenberg, who presented the main conclusions of a study on cancer treatment in Spain at the 1st High Level Forum on Medicines and the social value of investing in healthcare, organised yesterday and today in Madrid by Farmaindustria.

His research, yet to be published, covers Spain between 1999 and 2016 and aims to analyse the impact of innovative cancer treatment drugs on the health of cancer patients. Lichtenberg, professor at Columbia University (USA), has advanced that the commercialisation of new cancer drugs has managed to increase the life expectancy of cancer patients (delaying the average age of death) in Spain by 2.77 years in the period analysed. It concludes that 96% of the increase in life expectancy in cancer in this period in Spain is due to the new drugs.

In total numbers, this improvement in life expectancy translated into a 29.2% reduction in the number of deaths from cancer in 2016, i.e. 42,132 fewer deaths.

The more modern the therapeutic arsenal against a type of cancer, the fewer premature deaths occur and, therefore, the fewer years of potential life lost (YPLL), the study notes. Lichtenberg has calculated that, in 2016 in Spain, the new drugs authorised against cancer in the period 1999-2016 managed to reduce 333,000 DALYs before the age of 75, a concept commonly used in health research.

Their study estimates that the expenditure on these drugs per year of life gained was 3,269 euros, an amount that implies a high level of cost-effectiveness of these new drugs.

In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that health interventions that prevent a disability-adjusted life year (DALY) are highly cost-effective if they are below a country’s per capita income. In 2016, GDP per capita in Spain was 23,962 euros, which puts the previous figure of 3,269 euros per life-year gained well below the benchmark suggested by the WHO, which still considers interventions costing up to three times GDP to be cost-effective.

Moreover, the study confirms that early diagnosis can reduce cancer mortality. According to the model, a 2.2% decrease in the average age of the patient at diagnosis would reduce the number of cancer deaths in Spain by 7.3%. This result confirms the importance of early detection, although, once the disease is detected, the increase in life expectancy is mainly due to the availability of pharmacological treatment.

 

Longer life expectancy and greater economic savings

Among Lichtenberg’s work is an analysis of the savings in health care costs that the use of drugs provides. His studies, in line with those of other authors, conclude that for every euro spent on new drugs, there are direct savings in other health services of between 2.3 and 7.2 euros.

He has also analysed increases in life expectancy due to pharmacological innovation. One of his studies concluded that up to 73% of the increase in life expectancy in developed countries in the first decade of this century was due to new drugs marketed in that period.

Together with Professor Lichtenberg, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, the President of the Economic and Social Council, Antón Costas, and the Secretary of State for the Economy and Business Support, Gonzalo García Andrés, took part in the two-day forum, among other authorities and experts.

The aim of this meeting, held at the Ramón Areces Foundation in Madrid and attended by more than 400 people from all over Spain, is to analyse in depth the value of medicines for modern societies from the triple health, economic and social perspective, and to explore the contribution of health and medicines as an investment and lever for growth in Spain.

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