- The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has completed an "Evidence Block" for multiple myeloma and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)—the first in a series of such blocks attempting to weight cancer medications' costs versus their relative benefits.
- The NCCN, which is a non-profit alliance comprised of 26 leading cancer centers, is puting together a series of supplementary Evidence Blocks. They are intended to accompny the NCCN's existing guidelines for oncology, which are widely relied upon by physicians and healthcare providers.
- Each block scores a therapy with a score of one to five in the following categories: efficacy, safety, quality, consistency of evidence, and affordability.
The NCCN's latest contribution to an evidence-based analysis of various cancer regimens, with price factored in, is a response to a demand by payers and physicians who want to understand the value of different treatments. The just-released Evidence Block is the first in a series designed to address this need.
In the case of CML, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sprycel and Novartis' Gleevec and Tasigna are very highly rated. They are also very expensive.
With respect to first-line treatment of myeloma in patients who are eligible for a stem-cell transplant, there are six NCCN-endorsed preferred regimens, including four which have Takeda's Velcade as a backbone. The most effective—and the most expensive—is the treatment combining Velcade, Celgene's Revlimid, and dexamethasone. Amgen's Kyprolis (in combination with Revlimid and chemo) also performed well but was not listed as "preferred" due to pending results from a major study.
This information is critical for oncologists who treat many patients a year with both CML, which occurs in about 7,000 patients per year in the U.S., and myleoma—a cancer that starts in either the bone marrow or blood-forming cells and affects 27,000 Americans each year.
NCCN's scorecard add to a growing arsenal of tools, including ASCO's cancer drug scorecard, that payers and providers are likely to use in the wake of surging cancer drug prices, giving these players a basis for considering whether a drug that only marginally extends or enhances quality-of-life is worth an exorbitant price tag.