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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is Newer Always Better?

Kim Bailey

Health System Improvement Program Director

Is newer always better? Not in the case of a pricey new cancer drug, according to clinical trial data and experts around the nation. The drug, Zaltrap, is getting lots of media attention not because it is novel for a new drug to be twice as expensive as its competitor and no more effective (the FDA doesn't require new medicines to be either more effective or less costly than existing drugs), but because Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center—one of the nation's premier cancer treatment centers—has decided that it won't offer Zaltrap to its patients.

In this recent New York Times op-ed, three doctors at Sloan-Kettering describe why the hospital arrived at the decision and, along the way, poignantly capture many of the challenges that our health care system faces. It is definitely worth a read.