SOURCE: Canadian Health Policy Institute

Canadian Health Policy Institute

October 05, 2015 05:00 ET

Annual Economic Value of the Potential Health Benefits From New Uses for Cancer Drugs in Canada During the Last 10 Years Is Between $1.9 Billion to $8.4 Billion as of 2015

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - October 05, 2015) - A new study estimates that the annual economic value of the potential health benefits from newly discovered uses for cancer drugs approved over the last ten years in Canada was worth between $1.9 billion and $8.4 billion in 2015 alone. The study was published at Canadian Health Policy, the online journal of Canadian Health Policy Institute (CHPI).

The study discusses the challenges that the health system faces to adopting the additional uses for new cancer drugs, and it considers ways to make it easier for patients to access new treatments and to turn potential health benefits into real health gains.

Before new drugs can be sold in Canada they must be certified as safe and effective by Health Canada. Health Canada's drug marketing approvals are issued for specific health conditions or "indications" only. A drug product may only be marketed for the particular use approved by Health Canada.

Many cancer drugs are approved by Health Canada for additional cancer treatments after their initial approved indication. The expansion of uses (or the utility-expansion) for a cancer drug occurs when the drug can: treat a different cancer type; treat cancer at a different disease stage; be used in a different treatment line or treatment regimen; or be extended to a broader patient population.

Following Health Canada's initial marketing approval for a new drug, health technology assessments (HTA) are conducted by the Common Drug Review (CDR) for non-cancer drugs and the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) for cancer drugs. Quebec has its own HTA process through the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS). HTA cost-effectiveness recommendations are then utilized by public drug plans to guide eligibility and conditions for insurance reimbursement for new drug products.

HTA evaluations are typically undertaken when a drug is launched for its first approved indication and consider the cost-effectiveness of a drug within the context of a single specific indication. The CHPI study explores how Canada's HTA processes can more fully capture the value a drug might provide from additional potential uses over its life-cycle.

The study identified 11 cancer drugs first approved by Health Canada during 2004 to 2014 which were subsequently approved for treating 22 additional cancer indications. The potential economic value from the utility-expansion provided by these cancer drugs is an estimated $1.9 billion to $8.4 billion a year as of 2015. As of August 2015, the HTA process recommended funding for 4 of the 22 subsequent cancer indications approved by Health Canada.

The study highlights the challenges for evaluators, manufacturers and payers in the HTA process, and draws attention to the need for new HTA approaches that can respond to the utility-expansion occurring over a drug's life-cycle. The next generation of cancer drugs, especially immuno-therapy treatments, are being researched for multiple indications. With the findings, the CHPI study contributes to a better understanding of the longer term economic value of new cancer treatment that should inform HTA and payer reviews.

According to the lead author of the report, Kimberley Tran, "This paper is intended to contribute to government policy discussions regarding the importance and expanding value of innovative oncology drugs as governments plan how best to address the anticipated increase of cancer patients over the next 15 years."

Get the Study

The study, Economic value of the utility-expansion for new cancer drugs approved in Canada from 2004 to 2014 was authored by Kimberley Tran (M.A.) and Brett J Skinner (Ph.D). It is available online at: or

About CHPI

CHPI is a crowd-funded, consumer-driven, independent think-tank dedicated to conducting, publishing and communicating evidence-based research on the health system performance and health policy issues that are important to Canadians.

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