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Cancer drugs enter European market without evidence of survival or life quality benefit

Staff Writer |
Almost 57 percent of cancer drugs authorized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) between 2003 and 2009 came onto the market without any clear evidence they improved the quality or quantity of patients' lives.

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This is according to a study by King's College London.

A team led by researchers from King's College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science conducted the analysis.

They found that most cancer drugs were approved by the EMA using only surrogate measures which, although indicators, were not strong predictors of survival - whether living longer or feeling better.

"We evaluated the evidence base for all new drugs entering the market over a five year period and found that the majority came onto the market without clear evidence that they improved patients' survival or quality of life," said Dr Courtney Davis from King's College London.

When expensive drugs that lack robust evidence of clinical benefit were approved and reimbursed within publicly funded healthcare systems, individual patients may be harmed and public funds wasted, said Davis.

The team also found that even after a median follow-up of five years, 49 percent of the drugs still showed no quality or quantity of life benefit and of those that did, these benefits were judged to be clinically insignificant around 50 percent of the time.

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