Recently, the head doctor and chief of oncology at the university hospital of Lund (south Sweden) caught headlines by stating that he had changed his mind about approving new cancer medicines, as results kept improving due to these new treatments. In this weekâ€™s issue of Dagens Medicin (a Swedish weekly for health care, www.dagensmedicin.se), he restates the budgetary implications of having recourse to the latest treatments : "If a new medicine with a proven impact on the current pathology exists, then most patients (â€¦) will demand it, regardless of the therapeutic effect."
Indeed : so would most patients, and so would Dr. Rose. His concern is budgetary, both as head of a clinic and as a professional. And his reversed position is very positive ; but saying that, since the number of new treatments in oncology is increasing radically, the "equation is insoluble" mainly reflects that the concerns of socialized medicine (as is unfortunately the dominating feature in Sweden) carry greater weight than the number of patients cured.
This article from the Journal of Clinical Oncology (http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/full/26/1/6) reviews the most prominent results over the past 25 years. And Dr. Roseâ€™s conclusion, after going through these is the right one : Â« This (â€¦) makes it virtually medically undefendable not to treat patients with primary liver cancer or metastasizing kidney cell cancers. But in Sweden there is currently no connection between a possible treatment effect of new and costly medicines and the budgetary requirements of the concerned clinics. Â»
The defence rests.