US Cancer Network Recommending Expensive Drugs Based on Weak Evidence, Study Finds

(From The Guardian)

Guidelines for American oncologists often recommend expensive and harmful cancer drugs for patients based on “weak evidence”, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal.

The BMJ research looked at drugs recommended for conditions not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, a practice called “off-label” prescribing.

Off-label prescribing, or using a drug for purposes that may be well known but not approved by a regulatory agency, is common, especially in oncology. But recently approved cancer drugs can cost and have severe side-effects.

Prasad, the study’s lead author, said: “It would be one thing if we were talking about drugs that were cheap and have no side-effects.” He added that many recently approved cancer drugs “have risk-benefit analyses that are just tilted toward benefit. [But] you can get to a net harm condition.”

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