DrugAbacus was created by Dr. Peter B. Bach, and represents a draft of a tool that could be used to determine appropriate prices for cancer drugs based on what experts tend to list as possible components of a drug’s value. There is no doubt that drug prices in cancer have been causing a lot of worry, as they are rising rapidly. High prices drive out of pocket costs up, because coinsurance is calculated as a percentage of the price. In some insurance, like Medicare, in both Part B and D there is no upper limit on the out of pocket costs patients may face. Numerous systematic studies have documented that higher out of pocket costs lead patients to stop taking the medications that could improve their outcome. With the rising prices of cancer drug, how those prices should be tied to the drug’s value, or how that might be operationalized, are logical questions to ask.
DrugAbacus contains a convenience sample assembled for the proof of concept of the tool. It includes the cancer drugs approved between 2001 and 2013 that were examined by Howard et al. (Dr. Bach was a co-author on that study), and all the cancer drugs approved after that paper was completed. Howard et al. did not include some drugs because they were used for symptom relief, and others because the effectiveness data were hard to locate.
While previous versions of DrugAbacus focused on effectiveness in a drug’s first indication, this version includes an Indication Specific Pricing feature, which allows users to compare the actual and Abacus price of a drug in multiple, different indications for Abraxane, Avastin, Nexavar, and Tarceva.
The chance that a drug helps a few people a lot is something that probably should be considered in the value of the drug, and it can likely be operationalized, but it has not been in this version of DrugAbacus.
The newest update allows users to compare prices across 3 different markets spanning 2 different countries. These include US Medicare, US Veterans Administration, UK, Ireland, Belgium, and Canada.
Visit our methods page to further understand how we determined the price components of tool.
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If you have any questions or feedback on the project or DrugAbacus tool, visit our contact page.