Q&A: Drug costs and value in cancer


Q: Aside from the policy options, what’s the role of the oncologist in discussing the value of drugs with patients when determining a treatment plan?

A: Since oncologists don’t control drug prices, our role in improving the value of cancer care involves appropriately managing how resources are used and guiding patients during discussions around the right treatment plan for their particular diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment goals.

Adopting and adhering to high-quality oncology clinical pathways is an important way to improve the quality, efficiency, and value of cancer care. High-quality oncology pathways are detailed, evidence-based treatment protocols for delivering cancer care to patients with specific disease types and stages. When properly designed and implemented, oncology pathways serve as an important tool in appropriately managing cancer care resources and improving the quality of care that patients with cancer receive, while also reducing costs.

Dr. Schilsky is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of ASCO. Formerly the chief of hematology/oncology in the department of medicine and deputy director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, he is a leader in the field of clinical oncology, specializing in new drug development and the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Schilsky reported research funding from several pharmaceutical companies to ASCO for the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) clinical trial. He also reported travel/accommodation/expense support from Varian.

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