Advanced Prostate Cancer Drug Provenge $93,000 Per Patient Likely To Be Covered By Medicare

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Main Category: Prostate / Prostate Cancer
Also Included In: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP;  Urology / Nephrology;  Cancer / Oncology
Article Date: 31 Mar 2011 – 9:00 PDT

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Medicare has indicated that it proposes to cover the $93,000 cost per patient for a four month course of advanced prostate cancer vaccine Provenge (Sipuleucel-T). Provenge is a therapeutic cancer vaccine designed to prolong the life of patients with advanced to late stage prostate cancer, metastatic, asymptomatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Provenge makes it possible for the patient’s immune system to identify and target prostate cancer cells.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Provenge was described as a “reasonable and necessary” medication. This green light means thousands of males will be eligible to receive this drug through the federal government.

In a communiqué, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid explains that for the next 90 days it will receive comments before making its final decision.

Medicare is supposed to look at patient need rather than cost when considering new therapies. When it decided to review Provenge, which had compelling evidence regarding its benefits for prostate cancer patients, many complained that it was balking at the cost and seeking a reason to turn it down. Some politicians and several advocacy groups were outraged, as was the Dendreon Corporation (makers of the vaccine).

If or when the final favorable decision occurs, industry experts believe Provenge will become a blockbuster, with sales exceeding $1 billion.

Provenge is the first FDA-approved prostate cancer therapy that uses an individual’s own immune cells – it is a type of autologous cellular immunotherapy. It is considered a cancer treatment vaccine. Most people see vaccines as preventative; they prevent people from developing diseases, such as measles or mumps. Vaccines used to treat cancers are different, they do not prevent the disease, but rather attack cancer cell growth.

Source:, CMS

Christian Nordqvist

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Big Pharma

posted by C. Alex on 31 Mar 2011 at 9:29 am

I doubt this will be posted in a traditional medical site, but the content of this (helpful) article exposes one more time the power of the pharmaceutical industry. What justification exists for the price of this vaccine? It is nothing new, it has been done in Germany and Mexico for 50 years at moderately low cost.Still is. The american health industry is out of control!

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