• US stock market daily report (August 21, 2015, Friday)

    A new tool from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of 26 cancer centers, will provide a more clear picture of the relative value of medication options for cancer patients, particularly in cases where a very expensive therapy does little to improve survival rate.

    NCCN's chief executive Dr. Robert Carlson said, "A company that has an effective drug that's appropriately priced should welcome these blocks. If a drug is overpriced, "that's very important information for everybody."

    Mid October is the expected launch date for the NCCN scale which will employ "evidence blocks" that will assign a score of up to five points for each of five measures - price, effectiveness, safety, quality and consistency of clinical data.

    The NCCN set out protocols for treating a range of cancers based on diagnosis, disease stage and other factors, such as age. The tool is envisioned by the team as a supplement to its widely followed guidelines for oncology care. Initially, NCCN will evaluate drugs used for multiple myeloma and chronic myeloid leukemia, with similar guidelines expected for most other types of cancer by the end of 2016.

    For the first time, the most influential source for U.S. oncology treatment guidelines will offer a tool to assess the costs versus benefits of available therapies. Options for cancer patients have become increasingly complicated and expensive.

    Less effective treatments is something doctors will be shifting away from, with the use of the new tool. The action is expected to influence expensive prices drugmakers are able to charge. Needs of cancer patients are the primary concern of doctors especially with higher health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles - they want to know the value of their treatments.

    The assessment of each medication will be presented in a simple, tabular form, with each of the five components colored in to represent a score of one to five, per the NCCN. The information will appear on the NCCN and in printed literature.

    Determined by an individual physician's understanding of published data about a drug, patient preferences and habit, current prescribing patterns can be inconsistent. Creating a possible financial incentive for choosing higher-priced therapies, U.S. oncologists can also make a profit on intravenous drugs administered in their offices, which is calculated as a percentage of a drug's cost.

    According to IMS Health, during 2014, worldwide spending on cancer medications reached $100 billion, up from $75 billion just five years earlier, with spending in the USA accounting for 42% of the total.

    The NCCN website has some 700,000 registered users with more than 6 million copies of its guidelines downloaded during 2014.

    To shape their oncology reimbursement policies, NCCN guidelines are relied upon by the two largest U.S. payers of health costs, UnitedHealth Group and the federal government's Medicare plan for seniors.

    Dr Carlson said, "Many, if not most, of the others use our guidelines either directly or indirectly."

    Contributed by Millennium Traders
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