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di Giancarlo Nicoli

Dendreon (DNDN)’s Provenge works. This article is a little guide to restore accurate info regarding Provenge cost and survival advantage.

Dana Blankenhorn says:

While it has survived Phase III trials, fact is it’s only shown to extend life by about four months – and it costs $93,000.

Addressing survival: The above mistake is still common. Those “about four months” are now something mythical, widely talked about. It mystifies me that there’s still someone using them without context. The 4.1 month median survival benefit is, er, median. It is not an average. Median survivalmeans that half of all patients in the Phase III trials experienced a life-extending benefit of less than 4.1 months, while half of the men had their lives extended by a longer period of time, some up to 7 to 8 years.

What’s more, the Phase III trials design accounted for some underestimating of Provenge survival benefit. According to exploratory data analysis, true median overall survival benefit of Provenge in the Phase 3 IMPACT trial was estimated to be 7.8 months (Source: Dendreon).

Addressing cost: The full Provenge treatment costs $93,000. Another Prostate Cancer treatment is Zytiga (which must be taken with prednisone and which has a median treatment length of 8 months) costs $72,000 per year. Avastin can cost up to $100,000 per year.
Provenge has a very favorable safety profile. The most common side effects reported with Provenge treatment are: Chills, fatigue, fever, back pain, nausea, joint ache, headache (source: Provenge.com). They usually last a couple of days at most and do not require hospitalization – as opposed to other treatments that are toxic and that do require costly hospitalization. This cost is not included in the cost the treatment, and can run for several tens of thousands of dollars per patient.

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