Is the Cost of Cancer Medication Worthwhile?
Rabin Medical Center’s Dr. Daniel Goldstein explores the rising price of cancer medications and creates an equation to see if the cost is in fact justified.
Dr. Goldstein is at the forefront of the fight between oncologists and pharmaceutical companies with research that will help determine if the price of specific medications are in fact worthwhile. Dr. Goldstein explains “as a doctor, my main responsibility is to the patient. I must do anything in my power to assist him, including explaining a medication’s usefulness, side effects, how much he will be required to pay for it from his own pocket, will it extend his life expectancy or cure him, etc.”
At the start of his career Dr. Goldstein’s work at the World Health Organization. Being exposed to medicine in the third world, and the difficulty of health care systems to adapt budgets to needs and costs led Goldstein to his current research about the relationship between the cost of cancer medications and their benefits.
Dr. Goldstein shares, “we developed a framework on which we built a model to examine the medications.” He further explains, “We examine the benefit of each medication, its survival rates, cost of the number of cycles that are required in order to save lives, and the side effects costs as well as the costs of treating it. We use very complex modeling and calculation techniques which eventually say how much it costs to extend the patient’s life in one quality year of life (QALY).”
Dr. Goldstein is heading the challenge of oncologists to force the pharmaceutical companies to adapt the outrageous prices of cancer medication according to the benefit they produce. This important research, is not merely a guideline to patients, but also to the doctors treating them, as they reach the decision whether it is worthwhile to purchase a specific medication. The rising cost of cancer medications are priced so high that many families battling cancer declare bankruptcy. Dr. Goldstein shares “I think that in the recent years the pharmaceutical companies priced the medications quite wildly and managed to avoid responsibility. If they have an amazing medication, a lifesaving one, then we should pay a high price for it because we want to incentivize the industry to develop great inventions. But we should not pay a high price for a medication with a small benefit. The prices of cancer medications are rising regardless of their benefit“.
The American Association for Clinical Oncology has awarded Dr. Goldstein four exclusive awards for his research on providing a numerical basis in the fight of American oncologists in the costs of medications.
Israel’s Rabin Medical Center is home to Dr. Goldstein’s research at the Davidoff Cancer Center, the largest most sophisticated facility in the Middle East for treating malignant diseases, treating 16% of cancer patients in Israel.