Importance: Adjuvant therapies are often approved based on improvements in disease-, progression-, or relapse-free survival (ie, an event). An important estimate in adjuvant therapies is the cost per event averted.
Objective: To characterize the costs per event averted of anticancer drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between January 2018 and March 2022.
Design, setting, and participants: In this cross-sectional study, all approvals were reviewed from the FDA website. Approvals selected for the analysis needed to be drawn from randomized trials involving anticancer drugs studied in the adjuvant treatment of solid tumors. Treatments of nonsolid tumors; nonrandomized, noncontrolled trials; and unpublished trials were excluded. Approvals between January 2018 and March 2022 were included, and 11 trials met inclusion criteria. The monthly costs of each agent were abstracted from the Micromedex RED BOOK database. All variables included in calculations were derived from the original trial publication. Information abstracted for each approval included the name of the drug approved, name of the trial, primary end point, dosing regimen in the trial, median duration of treatment, tumor type, monthly costs per drug, and the number needed to treat for the primary end point. Data were analyzed in March 2022.
Main outcomes and measures: The cost per event averted for each agent studied in each clinical trial; the monthly cost of each drug, the cost per patient for each drug, the primary clinical end point studied in each trial; the study's design and setting.
Results: A total of 11 approvals were included in the study. From January 2018 to March 2022, all approvals were based on a surrogate end point as the primary end point, with no trials demonstrating, to date, an overall survival benefit. The median cost per event averted of drugs in the adjuvant setting was $1 610 000 (range, $820 000 to $2 640 000). The median cost of a complete adjuvant treatment was $158 000 per patient.
Conclusions and relevance: In this cross-sectional study, anticancer agents in the adjuvant setting were approved based on disease-, progression-, event-, or relapse-free survival. Costs per event averted were high. These findings suggest that these drugs may not achieve wide or global use unless their efficacy improves or their prices decrease.