Recently the world-famous magazine the Guardian has published: “Over half of new cancer drugs ‘show no benefits’ for survival or well-being.” This conclusion was made based on the recent research conducted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). EMA has looked at the evidence supporting the effectiveness of new cancer drugs which were approved between 2009 and 2013.
This study has demonstrated that there’s no clear evidence that these drugs may increase survival rates or improve patients’ quality of life. Although, they say that it does not mean that these drugs won’t help anyone at all: however, the analyses of the effectiveness of these drugs after several years of using them showed that these medicines do not work better than existing drugs.
Thus, this research has posed a question whether medicines regulators have to be stricter when it comes to the type of evidence they accept before approving the drug. This issue is particularly important for oncology as a course of treatment using new drugs may cost the National Health Service (NHS) tens of thousands of pounds.
Besides the necessity to get European regulatory approval all new drugs should be also evaluated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK. Before recommending the NHS the new drug to be prescribed NICE assesses whether the drug has any value in terms of prolonging patients’ lives or improving quality of life. Ironically, most newspapers which reported “shocking” news that new cancer drugs do not work recently were blaming NHS for not funding development of these drugs.