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No Clear Evidence That Most New Cancer Drugs Extend or Improve Life


By Alanna McCatty

October 9, 2017

Most new drugs approved for cancer in Europe lack clear evidence of extended survival or improved quality of life for patients, according to a new study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The research team from King’s College London and the London School of Economics examined reports on cancer treatment approvals by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from 2009 to 2013.

Of 68 cancer treatments approved during that time, 57% (39) entered the market without clinically beneficial evidence supporting that they extended survival or improved the quality of patients’ lives.

After 5 years on the market, only 51% (35) had shown a survival or quality of life gain over existing treatments or placebo out of the 68 cancer treatments approved by the EMA. There is still uncertainty over whether the remaining 33 (49%) drugs extend survival or improve quality of life.

Alanna McCatty

Alanna McCatty

Alanna McCatty is founder and CEO of McCatty Scholars, an organization that devises and implements financial literacy programs for students to combat the nationwide issue of the loss of educational opportunity due to the ramifications of burdensome student debt. At MedShadow, she reports on new findings and research on the side effects of prescription drugs. She is a graduate of Pace University.

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Last updated: October 9, 2017