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Two Sets of Researchers Find Herceptin Cost Effective

Two Sets of Researchers Find Herceptin Cost Effective

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia—Two groups of researchers have separately concluded that use of Herceptin (trastuzumab) in combination with standard anthracycline-based chemotherapy is cost effective as adjuvant therapy for early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer (J Clin Oncol 25:625-633; 634-641, 2007). Herceptin costs $50,000 to $65,000 for a 1-year course of adjuvant treatment.

The first study, by Italian researchers, found that adjuvant Herceptin improved 15-year disease-free survival from 39% to 52%, and 15-year overall survival from 44% to 58%. This translates into preventing one relapse in six treated patients. The researchers concluded that the cost per life-year saved is $19,000, a cost that is far less than some other highly accepted breast cancer treatments. These researchers based their analysis on the use of anthracycline-based adjuvant chemotherapy (doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide) plus Herceptin.

Researchers at Stanford analyzed the costs and health benefits of doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel plus Herceptin. They found a cost per life-year saved of under $40,000, comparable to or less than many accepted therapies, including those for early-stage breast cancer. Herceptin plus a non-anthracycline-based regimen—docetaxel (Taxotere) and carboplatin—was found to be less cost effective than Herceptin plus the anthracycline-based regimen.

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