Background: For rational decision making, assessing the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of new drugs and comparing the costs of drugs already on the market is required. In addition to value frameworks, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology Value Framework and the European Society of Medical Oncology–Magnitude of Clinical benefit Scale, this also requires a transparent overview of actual drug prices. While list prices are available, evidence on treatment cost is not. This paper aims to synthesise evidence on the reimbursement and costs of high-cost breast cancer drugs in The Netherlands (NL).
Methods: A literature review was performed to identify currently reimbursed breast cancer drugs in the NL. Treatment costs were determined by multiplying list prices with the average length of treatment and dosing schedule.
Results: Comparing list prices to the estimated treatment cost resulted in substantial differences in the ranking of costliness of the drugs. The average mean treatment length was unknown for 11/31 breast cancer drugs (26.2%). The differences in the 15 highest-cost drugs were largest for Bevacizumab, Lapatinib and everolimus, with list prices of €541, €158, €1,168 and estimated treatment cost of €174,400, €18,682 and €31,207, respectively. The lowest-cost (patented) targeted drug is €1,818 more expensive than the highest-cost (off-patent) generic drug according to the estimated drug treatment cost.
Conclusions: A lack of evidence on the reimbursement and cost of high-cost breast cancer drugs complicates rapid and transparent evidence synthesis, necessary to focus strategies aiming to limit the increasing healthcare costs. Interestingly, the findings show that off-patent generics (such as paclitaxel or doxorubicin), although substantially cheaper than patented drugs, are still relatively costly. Extending standardisation and increasing European and national regulations on presenting information on costs per cancer drug is highly recommended.