Gleevec is coming off patent- should leukemia oncs switch to the new, expensive therapy?

I recently blogged about an op-ed piece written by two oncs from Memorial Sloan-Kettering who advocated for a cheaper chemotherapy over a newer, more expensive option- but an option that was NOT more effective. 

Cancer care cost matters- Is MSK rationing cancer care?

"1) "The drug, Zaltrap, has proved to be no better than a similar medicine we already have for advanced colorectal cancer while its price — at $11,063 on average for a month of treatment — is more than twice as high." (Than the current standard of care)…"

The article linked below cites Gleevec, from Novartis,  a leukemia drug, is coming off patent in 2014 and that Novartis is portraying an expensive replacement as being better.

Novartis Cannibalizes Gleevec to Boost New Cancer Drug

"The Swiss company revolutionized leukemia treatment with Gleevec, a drug that turned a deadly blood cancer into a chronic disease more than a decade ago. Many doctors have since come to believe that the drug, typically taken for life, may heal some patients for good, allowing treatment to be discontinued. The findings highlight one of the company’s biggest challenges: Gleevec, which generated $4.7 billion last year, loses patent protection and sales in 2014…

The increased competition combined with the winding down of the Gleevec patent is why it is critical for Novartis to show that Tasigna works even better than the older drug. The plan is to do everything possible to steer patients away from Gleevec, which will become an inexpensive generic, and toward Tasigna.

If a series of so-called discontinuation trials show Tasigna to be more effective than Gleevec, doctors, patients, insurers and governments may well be drawn to Tasigna."

If Tasigna costs more than Gleevec, should leukemia patients switch therapies?  How much more money are you willing to pay for Tasigna?  How much better does Tasigna have to be than Gleevec to justify a higher cost? If your insurance pays for Tasigna, do you care?

Are you a leukemia survivor?  Caregiver? 

Thank you-

David Emerson


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