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Prostate Cancer Drug Cost Concerns: February 28, 2011

It’s a new prostate cancer fighting treatment that’s under the microscope and under scrutiny. “So Provenge is, for certain people, really good,” says Dr. Frank Rodriguez, a medical oncologist on the Lee Memorial Health System medical staff. “The question is: whom?”

When Provenge first appeared in the headlines, the reviews were glowing. “The study basically showed that in all men who were entered into the study, there was an improvement in their survival.”

But its heft price tag has cast a shadow on this prostate cancer treatment. Four months worth of Provenge can cost nearly $100,000. “It’s a major issue for us as treating physicians because there are drugs out there that are good and beneficial but are just unattainable by certain patients,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “So, it’s a constant fight that us at Florida Cancer Specialists and the Lee Memorial staff continuously fight to try and get these patients the appropriate therapy.”

But amongst all the controversy surrounding Provenge, there are other drugs in development that have the potential to increase a patient’s quality of life without sacrificing their finances. “As these drugs are developed, it’s interesting to see that the goal of therapy now is yes, certainly survival is the most important thing, but how these drugs are tolerated is becoming a much more important part of their development.”

And it’s not just drugs. Dr. Rodriguez adds that better radiation techniques, enhanced surgery technology and increased knowledge are aiding in the treatment of prostate cancer.