Study: U.S. provides faster access to oncology drugs than Europe

Thursday, July 12, 2012 11:01 AM

Cancer patients in the U.S. get faster access to more oncology drugs to treat their disease than patients in Europe, according to a recent study by the Boston-based Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development.

In addition, the study found new oncology drug approvals in the U.S. outpaced European approvals by 33% between 2000 and 2011.

"While greater access to more treatment options is definitely a positive for patients in the U.S., it is not clear if greater access leads to better health outcomes," said Joshua P. Cohen, the research assistant professor at Tufts CSDD who conducted the analysis.

Cohen said the growing use of comparative effectiveness research, which provides information on the relative strengths and weaknesses of different medical technologies, could help close the gap between what is known and what is done in pharmaceutical care.

"Although more oncology drugs are available in the U.S., and the costs for a higher share of them are reimbursed, the evidence-based approach adopted by European systems have improved the affordability of drugs in Europe that are considered to be cost-effective," Cohen said.

Other findings of the study were:

  • Between 2000 and 2011, 40 oncology drugs received market approval in the U.S. compared to 30 in Europe.
  • Oncology drug prices in Europe, on average, are 9% lower than in the U.S.
  • Patient cost sharing is much lower in Europe than the U.S., where the average co-insurance rate per covered drug is 33%.
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