Management in Health, Vol 13, No 2 (2009)

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The Burden of Cancer and Market Access for New Oncology Drugs in European Countries

Cristian Vlădescu, Simona Baculea, Nona Delia Chiriac


Objective: Aim of the study is to show the burden and cost of cancer, to overview the resources available for cancer treatment in European countries including Romania, and see how these relate to the countries market access for new oncology drugs.

Methodology: An analysis of burden of cancer in European countries was performed by looking at various disease indicators from international studies, with a comparison per types of cancer for Romania based on local market research and a retrospective descriptive study on data from National Hospital database for 2008.

Results: The incidence of cancer in European countries is increasing, top three cancers as number of cases are breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. There are wide variations between European countries regarding resources allocated to cancer therapy and absorption of new oncology drugs. Romania is among countries with the lowest spending for cancer treatment in EU although cancer incidence is comparable with other Eastern European countries. The most frequent types of cases hospitalized are for breast, colorectal and lung cancer. Cases are treated in day hospital and inpatient settings, and they are usually associated with intravenous chemotherapy and surgical procedures, resulting in a large number of episodes of care.

Conclusions: In Romania, case-mix data can be used to show the real burden of cancer, in terms of evolution of volume of cases per types of cancer and per diagnoses. Costs of care for cancer patients are high, but most part (2/3) represent indirect costs, such as costs with loss of productivity due to disease, which generate an important economic burden for the society. In this holistic perspective, high costs of new therapies are in most of cases outweighed by future benefits from prolonging life and increased quality of life for cancer patients. Based on the analysis, important issues to be addressed in near future are the inequity in access between different regions to specialized oncologic care, and the delays in market uptake of new oncology drugs due to delayed reimbursement decisions following market authorization. Also, a functional National Cancer Registry (still under development) and additional resources for treatment in outpatient settings could improve patient access to treatment.

Key words: burden of cancer, cost evaluation, market acces for new oncology drugs


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