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Multiple Myeloma Chemotherapy- Are MM Drugs Worth It?

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How much are Multiple Myeloma (MM) Patients benefiting from this expanding arsenal of high-priced drugs?...

It’s now 2019 and multiple myeloma chemotherapy prices are  increasing at a pace I wouldn’t have imagined when I was diagnosed with MM, an “incurable cancer” in 1994. Are MM drugs high-priced? Are MM chemotherapy drugs “worth it?” It seems to me that the answer is “it depends.” I say that “it depends” for two reasons.

First, if you have been diagnosed with MM, you can ask your oncologist how long you will live if you do nothing aka take no drugs whatsoever. Assuming you and your oncologist decide that you will live longer with chemo than without it, you next question is what choices do you have?

MM at every stage will come with a “standard-of-care” drug regimen.  The phrase SOC simply means that the FDA has approved the chemo regimen. Your board-certified oncologist will talk about and recommend only conventional,  FDA approved therapies.

 Each conventional therapy that is standard-of-care for your MM/stage, comes with a price. Please confirm that your health insurance plan covers or pays for each and every therapy that you undergo.  

You will undoubtedly hear about therapies  that your friend, relative, co-worker, etc. assures you can cure your incurable cancer. The challenge you face is that there will be little if any research into non-conventional therapies and you will have to go on anecdotal experience alone.

While PeopleBeatingCancer.org is filled with discussion of non-conventional therapies for MM patients and survivors, I would be the first to say that, at the beginning at least, conventional MM chemotherapy regimens should be your first step to get your MM under control.

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Choosing a therapy or MM regimen, is difficult and largely guesswork. Most MM patients turn to their oncologists to recommend a therapy. MM specialists have much more knowledge and experience in this regard than do general oncologists.

If you experience a long progression-free survival (PFS) after your induction therapy, say 10 years, you will probably be happy with the cost of your MM drugs.

If however, you are like me and experience a remission of less than a year after your induction therapy and ASCT then you will probably not be happy with the cost of your MM drugs. My induction therapy and ASCT cost several hundred thousand dollars and provided me with only months of remission and a host of short, long-term and late stage side effects.

Unfortunately, when a therapy can cost thousands of dollars a month and you are paying even 10-20% of that cost, you must weigh the pros and cons, the risks and benefits of that therapy. Choose the wrong therapy and you may loose on two counts- you may die and you may leave your family with insurmountable debt.

Please learn about and consider evidence-based integrative therapies. Curcumin, for example, has been shown to enhance the efficacy of both revlimid and velcade.

The problem you face as a newly diagnosed MM patient is that there is no guarantee that any MM therapy will work. Even high-priced cancer drugs come with real challenges for the MM patient. Challenges such as short, long-term and late stage side effects, limited remissions and even death.

The bottom line in an era of expensive MM therapies is that each MMer must make his or her own decision as to what chemotherapy to risk.

To learn more about integrative, complementary and other evidence-based, non-conventional therapies for your CA please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP. 

Thank you

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Can We Afford the Cost of Myeloma Therapy?

“Over the past few years, the approval of several new drugs for multiple myeloma, as well as evolving strategies for stem cell transplant, have contributed to increased survival and improved quality of life for many patients with this disease.

However, the new agents come with hefty price tags, and multiple myeloma has become a very expensive disease to treat. Can we afford it? Or not?

That was the debate between two experts at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, professor of medicine, Department of Hematology, at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, argued that the cost of care is not affordable and that action needs to be taken…”

We’re spending $107 billion on cancer drugs, but is it worth it?

“A flood of innovative CA treatments helped fuel an 11.5 percent surge in spending on oncology drugs over the past year — to $107 billion globally, according to a new report. But there’s a crucial question the study can’t quite answer: How much are patients benefiting from this expanding arsenal of high-priced drugs?...

The report from IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics highlights 70 new CA treatments, treating more than 20 types of tumors, all approved in the past five years. In the United States, where cancer drug spending was $37.8 billion last year, those new drugs alone account for $9.4 billion of the increase since 2010

But the 72 percent increase in spending over five years in the United States raises a trickier question, too: Are cancer patients getting their money’s worth…

As $10,000-a-month cancer drugs have become a norm, doctors have begun to push back, insisting that many drugs aren’t worth the price…

Not all approved cancer drugs are alike. Some may provide profound benefits, lengthening life by years; others may significantly shrink a tumor, but increase patients’ chances of survival only by small amounts. The IMS study notes that many of the recent drug approvals have had significant clinical benefits, but it does not quantify their overall impact…”







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Most New Multiple Myeloma Drugs Don't Improve Survival or QOL - PeopleBeatingCancer says 4 years ago

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Relapsed Refractory Multiple Myeloma? CAR-T vs. Triplet Therapy - PeopleBeatingCancer says 5 years ago

[…] Cost of Myeloma Drugs- Are They Worth It? […]

Elaine Jesmer says 9 years ago

If ever there was a case for government intervention, this is it. People will die if the drugs they need are beyond their reach. In some cases (some hospitals in NYC), the newer expensive drugs are NOT being used because the cheaper ones are equally effective. New isn’t always better. But these very responsible doctors can’t change the really awful holes in our profit-driven economy. Only the government can put the brakes on runaway drug prices.

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