We’re getting new treatments for ‘a disease that once was definitely a death sentence’ — but it comes with a big price tag

Pink balloons are displayed in front of an artificial waterfall during the

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Pink balloons are displayed in front of an artificial waterfall during the “Pink Ribbon” breast cancer awareness campaign at Cheonggye Stream in central Seoul
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Thomson Reuters

  • With the explosion of new cancer treatments, global spending on these medications in 2017 rose 18% to $133 billion and is expected to reach $200 billion by 2022, according to a new report.
  • The median annual cost of a cancer drug launched in 2017 exceeded $150,000.

There are more than 700 cancer drugs in late-stage development- that’s more than a 60% increase from a decade ago.

But while the number of new cancer treatments has risen, so too has spending on the disease.

Spending on cancer therapies rose to $133 billion in 2017, an increase of 18% over the year prior, according to a new study on Thursday.

In the US alone, spending on cancer medicine doubled over the last five years from $25 billion to $50 billion, according to the study, which was published by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The global market for cancer is expected to reach a staggering $200 billion by 2022

New treatments are allowing patients to survive longer with their cancer, but there’s a price to pay for innovation. The median annual cost of a cancer drug launched in 2017 exceeded $150,000 – almost twice the cost of new treatments that were launched 10 years ago.

“We’ve still got a long ways to go, and we are spending a lot of money on cancer therapies. But again, these are bringing new treatment options to a disease that once was definitely a death sentence” Murray Aitken, executive director of IQVIA Institute told Business Insider. “Now we’re seeing real, almost-cures, significantly longer remissions for patients and definitely better outcomes. It’s a very exciting time.”