Two views of cancer medicines: Imagery versus evidence

Health Mark Q. 2023 Apr-Jun;40(2):141-152. doi: 10.1080/07359683.2021.1997512. Epub 2022 Jan 7.


Despite advertising imagery portraying cancer medicines as offering substantial improvement or cure, most patients can expect modest or no incremental benefit from most new treatments, according to pre-specified criteria. When improvements in overall survival are demonstrated, they average just 2.1 months. Despite limited benefits, drug prices have risen while median household incomes have remained largely unchanged, and these higher prices are poorly correlated with improved outcomes. Better alignment of perception with demonstrated drug benefit could be achieved by limitations on advertising and improved labeling or other disclosures. Reforms are also needed to remove financial incentives to prescribe costlier drugs.

Keywords: Advertisements; cancer; drug price; efficacy; evidence; oncology.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Costs
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy