Are cancer drugs worth the cost?

That’s the question a controversial Boston-based non-profit, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), convened about last week in St. Louis to discuss. The group, who notoriously “cherry-picks data,” often reviews new medications, deems them too expensive, and allows the insurance industry justify limiting coverage for new treatments and pass costs directly onto patients.

Last week’s target: non-small cell lung cancer treatments.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in America and accounts for roughly 85 percent of all lung cancers. ICER’s recommendation regarding which medications insurers should cover could gravely impact close to 225,000 Americans and their treatment options this year alone.

However, medical professionals have raised serious concerns about ICER’s methodology. A group of five practicing oncologists and lung cancer researchers, including the executive director of the University of Tennessee’s Cancer Center, a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network non-small cell lung cancer guidelines panel, and professors from Johns Hopkins University and Ohio State University, recently reviewed ICER’s report on non-small cell lung cancer.

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