In 1984, Congress passed what is commonly referred to as Hatch-Waxman, a bill intended to lower the cost of prescription drugs by making generic versions available after an exclusivity period. However, one group of medicines, called biologics, was excluded from the bill. Many of the medicines used to treat colon cancer, such as Avastin and Erbitux, are biologics and so there are not lower cost versions available; however, that may be about to change.
Your doctor is likely a member of The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which is a membership organization of more than 35,000 oncology professionals. For more than two decades ASCO has provided doctors with clinical practice guidelines to help make sure your treatment is based on the best scientific evidence. This summer, however, ASCO moved beyond traditional guidelines with the release of their draft “Value Framework.” Some believe the Value Framework represents the future of cancer care and a way to improve clinical outcomes while controlling costs; others view it as a dangerous scheme to limit your treatment based on an impersonal formula. The New York Post, with their flair for the dramatic, called it “The Cancer Death Panel App.” So just what is the Value Framework and what does it mean for your cancer care?