Global cancer spending tops $100bn in 2014 – report

Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
The global market for oncology drugs increased 10.3 percent last year and may reach $147 billion by 2018, according to IMS Health. Spending is rising due to better treatments and higher survival rates.

Global spending on cancer medication in 2014 rose to $100 billion, up from $75 billion four years ago, according to the Global Oncology Trend Report 2015, released Tuesday by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The increased prevalence of most cancers, earlier treatment initiation, new medicines and improved outcomes are all contributing to the greater demand for oncology therapeutics around the world,” said Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

The US contributes 42.2 percent of the total spending, while European markets like Germany, France, Britain, Spain and Italy stay close behind. Spending on oncology in these five leading EU markets was 13.3 percent of total drug spending in 2010, and increased by 14.7 percent in 2014. Total drug spending in the US in the same period enlarged from 10.7 percent to 11.3 percent.

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The report also said that a range of new, more complex and better drugs is on the rise. Pharmaceutical companies have produced 45 new drugs from 2010 to 2014 for 53 uses. 10 new drugs, including five biologic therapies, have been launched globally last year.

Earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration and increased effectiveness of drug therapies are “contributing to rising levels of spending on medicines for cancer care." Survival rates have steadily improved over the past 20 years, according to the study, which showed that two out of three Americans survive at least five years after a diagnosis while in 1990 just over half lived that long.

"We've made huge progress from a scientific perspective in understanding cancer," Aitken said. "It's not a single disease but so many sub-diseases. We're at the edge of a major breakthrough in terms of cancer treatment. It's a very exciting time."

However, patient access to cancer drugs varies widely across the major developed countries. In 2014, patients in Japan, Spain and South Korea had access to fewer than half of the new cancer drugs launched globally in the prior five years. In emerging markets availability of newer targeted therapies remains low but is increasing. New drugs may not be “reimbursed even among wealthy countries and, as a result, will only reach a very small number of patients."