London: People suffering from Cancer, be cautious! According to a recent study, half of the cancer drugs that have recently arrived on the market have come with little evidence that they boost the survival or wellbeing of patients.
The researchers found that of cancer drugs approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) between 2009 and 2013, 57 percent (39/68) had no supporting evidence of better survival or quality of life when they entered the market.
After an average of five years of follow up, only half had shown a survival or quality of life gain over existing treatments or placebo.
For the remaining 33 (49 percent), "uncertainty remains over whether the drugs extend survival or improve quality of life", according to the authors from King's College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
Of the 23 drugs with a survival benefit that could be scored with a validated tool, only 11 (48 percent) were judged to offer a clinically meaningful benefit, they added.
Author Huseyin Naci, assistant professor in LSE's Department of Health Policy, said, "It is remarkable that so few cancer drugs enter the European market without any clear data on outcomes that matter to patients and their doctors: longer survival and better quality of life. There is a clear need to raise the bar for approving new cancer drugs."
Dr Courtney Davis, a medical and political sociologist in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's, added, "We evaluated the evidence base for all new drugs entering the market over a five year period and found that the majority came onto the market without clear evidence that they improved patients' survival or quality of life."
If a drug shows promise but there is not enough data Nice can, under certain circumstances, recommend that the drug is available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, which allows more time for evidence to be collected before a final decision is made.
Commenting on the research, Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK's director of policy, said: "This study doesn't necessarily show us what's happening here in the UK. While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) decides which new drugs are safe to be sold in Europe, it's national bodies like Nice that decide which drugs should be made available to patients."
The author concluded, "Nice makes these decisions based on the clinical effectiveness and the cost of a drug to determine whether it will bring value to patients and the NHS."
The study was published in The British Medical Journal.