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Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD


Trends in the Cost of Agents Used to Treat Metastatic NSCLC

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A cross-sectional study conducted by Alex A. Adjei, MD, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues evaluated trends in the prices of class-specific brand-name medications used to treat non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). These investigators found that drug prices increased between 2015 and 2020, and these increases were greater than the consumer price index for prescription medications and the inflation rate. These findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

“The lock-step price increases of brand-name medications without evidence of price competition raise concern about the affordability of promising oncology drugs,” concluded the study authors. “Academic, industry, and government partnerships should be developed to address the high costs of prescription oncology drugs, which may soon be unaffordable for most patients if the trends discovered in the present study continue.”

This study used data from the Micromedex Red Book and Medi-Span Price Rx databases. The study sample included 17 brand-name medications used in the treatment of metastatic NSCLC that were commercially available before January 2019. Trends over time in average prices of medications within each therapeutic class were measured using the Pearson correlation coefficient, and the compounded annual growth rate of medication costs were compared with the annual inflation rate and consumer price index.

The Pearson correlation coefficient approached 1.0 for all drug classes, implying price increases despite within-class drug competition. Median Pearson correlation coefficient values for each drug class follow: 0.999 for ALK inhibitors; 0.999 for BRAF and MEK inhibitors; 0.964 for immune checkpoint inhibitors; and 0.898 for EGFR inhibitors.

For most drug costs, the median compounded annual growth rates were higher than both the annual inflation rate and the consumer price index for prescription drugs. Notably, the growth rates for BRAF and MEK inhibitors, EGFR inhibitors, ALK and ROS1 inhibitors, and immune checkpoint inhibitors were 3.06%, 2.56%, 2.46%, and 1.81%, respectively.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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