Hospital Spending on Cancer Immunotherapies Has Increased

An analysis by research and analytics firm Lumere found that a greater share of hospitals’ budgets is going toward new cancer treatments and a biosimilar version of pegfilgrastim to prevent neutropenia during chemotherapy. Hospitals also are spending more on outpatient infusion treatments and expensive specialty drugs, according to the report.

Researchers observed that spending on immunotherapies that treat small cell lung cancer, including pembrolizumab, increased 199% in the first three-quarters of 2019, compared with 2018.

Spending on drugs to treat neutropenia increased 79%. In recent months, most of this spending was on Udenyca, a biosimilar version of Amgen’s Neulasta. These findings suggest that certain less-expensive biosimilars are gaining a foothold in the clinic, despite ongoing patent litigation that has allowed only about a dozen FDA-approved biosimilars to be launched.

“What we hear from hospital pharmacies all the time is that there are a lot of new expensive drugs entering the market and so it’s a real challenge for them whether or not to adopt the drug for the appropriate patient population,” said Bonnie Lai, vice president of product management at Lumere. “It’s something hospitals are struggling with constantly.”

Source: STAT, December 6, 2019.