Two Sets of Researchers Find Herceptin Cost Effective

March 1, 2007

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

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.