• Sound Medicine – How much could cancer cost you?

    Sound Medicine is a radio show produced by the Indiana University School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio. In the last few years, I’ve become their go-to guy on health policy. So, for those of you who would find your day brightened by the sound of my voice, enjoy the following:

    Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, discusses Memorial Sloane-Kettering Hospital’s decision to stop prescribing the expensive drug Zaltrap for it’s patients with advanced colon cancer.

    • Good piece Aaron. The Zaltrap story is certainly attention worthy. I worry that much of the dialog around cost-effectiveness, however, is very short sighted. Drugs, by nature of the trials required for regulatory approval make very easy targets for discussions of cost effectiveness. Unfortunately many other sources of spending, such as surgical procedures rarely have comparative effectiveness data to support their use. The intro to your piece said drugs represent an “enormous” portion of our healthcare costs. I would agree that drug costs are enormous in absolute terms but they represent less than 10% of our overall spending (see . If we are serious about controlling costs the dialog needs to be stretched beyond drug costs, because fixing that problem alone is not going to fix the broader issue.