Cancer vaccines and immunotherapeutics: challenges for pricing, reimbursement and market access.


Public payment is key to market access for new therapeutics including cancer vaccines and cancer immunotherapeutics. However, the methodology for economic evaluation aimed at informing decisions about pricing and reimbursement is different for cancer vaccines, such as HPV for preventing the occurrence or incidence of cancer, and immunotherapeutics for treatment of patients with manifest cancer. Vaccination against HPV is a traditional public health intervention, where the role of economic evaluation is to inform decisions about optimal vaccination strategies. The decision is about funding for a vaccination program, aimed at vaccinating a defined population at risk, either at a national or regional level. The methodology of economic evaluation is based on statistical modeling of number of cases prevented over a long time period, and the costs and health outcome related to this, for different vaccination strategies For immunotherapeutics, the role of economic evaluation is to assist decisions about reimbursement and guidelines for treatment of patients with establish disease, very often at advanced stages with short life expectancy. The focus is on alternative treatment options, and the costs and outcomes associated with these. Alternatives may be best supportive care, immunotherapeutics or other treatments like surgery, radiotherapy and other anti-cancer drugs. From an economic perspective the type of therapy does not matter, only costs and outcome associated with the relevant alternatives. The main controversy about reimbursement of immunotherapeutics, as with other new cancer drugs, has been the cost of treatment, mainly determined by the price of the therapy, in relation to the expected benefits in terms of survival and quality of life. This paper reviews the evidence on cost-effectiveness, the reimbursement decisions made, and the impact on market access for new immunotherapeutics. Sipuleucel-T (Provenge(®)) and abiraterone (Zytiga(®)) for treatment of prostate cancer and ipilimumab (Yervoy(®)) as well as vemurafenib (Zelboraf(®)) for treatment of metastatic melanoma are used as examples of the economic issues involved in analysis and decision-making.

DOI: 10.4161/hv.21921

Cite this paper

@article{Jnsson2012CancerVA, title={Cancer vaccines and immunotherapeutics: challenges for pricing, reimbursement and market access.}, author={Bengt J{\"{o}nsson and Nils Wilking}, journal={Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics}, year={2012}, volume={8 9}, pages={1360-3} }