ASCO: A week of claims without cost data

This is the week of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting. Drug companies will roll out PR blitzes for drugs showing any hint of anticancer activity.

You can expect lots of data showing improvement quoted as percent improvement rather than actual numbers. For example, if you have 3 chances in 100 of cancer recurring and the drug decreases the risk to 2 chances in 100, guess how the authors and drug companies will tout the data? Instead of saying it will decrease your chance of recurrence by 3 cases/100 to 2 cases/100, we will hear about a 33% decrease in the risk of cancer recurrence.

Also missing will be cost data. In a “consumer driven” health care system with drugs often costing over $50,000/year for the drug alone (more than the average and mean salaries/year in our country) revealing the cost is as important as honestly representing results.

Expect both to be obfuscated this week.

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