Provenge–Poster child for comparison studies

Lots of news on Provenge, (also in Bloomberg) a drug being tested in patients with hormone refractory advanced prostate cancer. Dandreon, the manufacturer has highlighted results in an incomplete study, perhaps jeopardizing it’s integrity.

“Provenge appeared to cut patients’ death rates by 20% compared with a placebo treatment, the company said. The release also contained statistical details that made good results seem likely when final results are released in April.”

What is a 20% improvement? Is it 1 month, two months or a year?

Compared with a placebo? Sugar pills and such? I would hope it would offer some benefit.

It’s good to see progress in this disease, but this is premature reporting more for the benefit of financial types than medical. This new drug will undoubtedly cost thousands/ month. At some point, comparison with and combination with the current best therapies will allow a more reasonable assessment of efficacy and cost/effectiveness.

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