June 10, 2020

Precision medicine, here and now

Great article by David Cutler. The time for the returns of precision medicine has arrived in his opinion.
Precision medicine raises hopes for patients and fears for those who try to ride herd on health care spending. Will patients finally live longer and healthier lives? Will society be able to afford it? Surprisingly, at this point, personalized medicine has had less effect on both health and medical spending than either its strongest backers hoped or its most apprehensive actuaries feared.
 To date, total spending on anticancer drugs has been relatively modest. Although inflation-adjusted spending on anticancer drugs increased by $30 billion between 2011 and 2018, this is only 6% of the total increase in personal health care spending over the period. Given that administrative expenses cost an estimated 4 times the amount spent on anticancer drugs, one should be cautious about focusing excessively on the cost of precision medicine.
A better metric than total spending is cost effectiveness: do the benefits of the drugs outweigh the cost? The “drug abacus” tool developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which evaluates the cost-effectiveness of 52 anticancer drugs approved between 2001 and 2013, estimates that only a handful of new drugs are worth the cost at conventional valuations of life. If anticancer drugs were priced based on cost-effectiveness criteria, spending would fall by 30%.
This is a US based article, we need some estimates of our health system.