Cost of oncology drugs in the Middle-Eastern country of Lebanon: An update (2014-2016)
Adib, Salim M.
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Elias, F., Bou-Orm, I.R., Adib, S.M., Gebran, S., Gebran, A. and Ammar, W. (2018) ‘Cost of oncology drugs in the middle-eastern country of Lebanon: an update(2014-2016)’, Journal of Global Oncology, (4), pp. 1–7. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1200/JGO.17.00179.
Purpose This study aims to evaluate trends in the increasing costs of oncology drugs procured by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) between 2014 and 2016 and to assess the impact of the introduction in mid-2015 of new immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of lung cancer on the overall and specific costs of that treatment. Methods A secondary analysis of data from the MOPH Cancer Drug Scientific Committee data base was conducted using a total of 18,133 cancer files between 2014 and 2016. Results Over the 3-year period, about $140 million (USD) was spent on cancer drugs by the MOPH free cancer drug dispensing program. The expenditures increased by 27% after immunotherapy was phased in. The average cost of drugs per patient per year measured across all cancer types increased from $7,000 in 2014 to $8,400 in 2016. Trastuzumab, approved for treating human epidermal growth factor receptor 2–positive breast cancer ranked first in total expenditures for 2014-2015. By 2016, two new immunotherapy drugs had topped the list: pembrolizumab ranked first and nivolumab ranked third, representing 64% of the total cost of lung cancer treatment and approximately 19% of the total yearly budget; beneficiaries represented only 3% of all patients. Conclusion This update documents the increasing financial impact of newer cancer drugs on the procurement process in the middle-income country of Lebanon. The trend is aligned with the financial burden of cancer drugs worldwide, which calls for a collaborative global response to this crisis.