Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More economics of medicine

This article nicely illustrates the dilemma facing the U.S. health care system.
In the two weeks since Genentech's expensive new drug Avastin was found to help the sickest lung cancer patients live a few months longer than expected, investors have pumped nearly $17 billion into the company.

But what's good for the patients, the company and its investors is also heavily stressing the ailing U.S. health care system, raising uncomfortable questions about the cost of end-of-life care.

"We are spending huge sums of money on treatments that are offering only modest benefits," says Dr. Richard Deyo, a University of Washington professor who recently wrote a book on the subject.

Of course if you are the one who gets a few extra months of life, it probably seems like a good deal to you. I don't have answers, but clearly from a societal standpoint, these drugs don't make a lot of sense.


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