Tablet is better all round for cancer patients

October 8, 2007

A drug to treat colon cancer is proving much more convenient than traditional chemotherapy, has fewer side effects - and a study of almost 2,000 patients has shown it is giving them a better chance of surviving the disease.

“Standard chemotherapy can be incredibly disruptive to people’s lives,” said Prof Professor Chris Twelves of the University of Leeds, who led the research. “Patients visit hospital five days a week for the injections and then have three weeks off before returning to hospital for the next course – and the side effects can be unpleasant.”

The oral chemotherapy drug Xeloda (capecitabine) offers fewer side-effects and less time in hospital – and the trial has shown that patients given the drug were at least as likely to be alive and free of their disease as those on standard chemotherapy (the Mayo Clinic regimen).

The research showed that about 71 percent of patients given Xeloda were still alive after five years, compared to 68 percent of patients treated with standard chemotherapy injections.

Prof Twelves’s study followed 1,987 patients who had undergone colon cancer surgery. It found that patients treated with Xeloda spent 85 percent less time with their doctor or at the hospital, and experienced fewer side effects. The new results, showing patients’ five-year survival rates, confirm the effectiveness of the treatment.

“We now have long-term evidence now that clearly supports Xeloda's superiority over the Mayo Clinic regimen,” said Prof Twelves. “There is now no reason why we should ask colon cancer patients to endure the burdens associated with that older treatment.”

Source: University of Leeds

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not rated yet Oct 10, 2007
A Dose of Influence?

Would a clinical trial to show when drugs are selected with and without the presence of profit differential (which would include oral-dose drugs), clinical outcomes would be the same?

Dr. Neil Love's "Patterns of Care" reported a survey of breast cancer oncologists based in academic medical centers and community based, private practice medical oncologists. The former oncologists do not derive personal profit from the administration of infusion chemotherapy, the latter oncologists do derive personal profit from infusion chemotherapy, while deriving no profit from prescribing oral-dosed chemotherapy.

The results of the survey could not have been more clear-cut. For first line chemotherapy of metastatic breast cancer, 84-88% of the academic center-based oncologists (who are motivated to keep off-protocol patients out of their chemotherapy infusion rooms to reserve these rooms for on-protocol patients) prescribed oral-dose drug Xeloda (capecitabine), while only 13% prescribed infusion drugs, and none of them prescribed the expensive, highly remunerative drug Taxotere (docetaxel).

In contrast, among the commuity-based oncologists, only 18% prescribed the non-remunerative oral-dose drug Xeloda (capecitabine), while 75% prescribed remunerative infusion drugs, and about 40% prescribed the expensive, highly remunerative drug docetaxel.

ASCOs President says that we go by the literature, which has defined which are the best regimens. Well, how does he explain why the academics prescribe oral dose Xeloda to their metastatic breast cancer patients who aren't on their protocols, which keeps them from clogging up their chemo rooms and resources, which they want to use for the patients on their clinical trials, while the community oncologists almost universally prescribe infusion therapy, with the most popular drug being the still on patent Taxotere (docetaxel), which I do surmise has one of the best "spreads" between acquisition costs and average reimbursement.

The academic center-based oncologists are not without collective guilt. They are misguided in not recognizing that they continue to try and mate a notoriously heterogeneous disease into "one-size-fits-all" treatments. They predominately devote their clinical trial resources into trying to identify the best treatment for the "average" patient, in the face of evidence that this approach is non-productive. However, such unsuccessful experiments will never be viewed as such by the people whose careers are supported by these kinds of experiments.

What was interesting about the "Patterns of Care" study was that it is contemporary, after the Medicare reform. It shows that the Medicare reforms haven't solved the problem. It's not that all oncologists are bad people. It's just an impossible conflict of interest, it's the system which is rotten. The solution is to change the system. So far, Medicare reform hasn't achieved that.

http://patternsof...itor.htm (figure 37, volume 2, issue 1, 2005)


http://www.cancer...#Section 297


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