Evaluating the Financial Impact of Clinical Trials in Oncology: Results From a Pilot Study From the Association of American Cancer Institutes/Northwestern University Clinical Trials Costs and Charges Project

Charles L. Bennett, Tammy J. Stinson, Victor Vogel, et al.
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

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Reviewers: Li Liu, MD
Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology, Volume 18:2805-2810, (August) 2000.

Précis: Clinical trials no longer cost more than standard care for cancer patients


It is not known whether the treatment regimens employed in cancer trials increase or decrease the economic costs of care over the remaining lifetimes of cancer patients compared with conventional therapies. In this study, the researchers evaluated the medical care expenses incurred as part of cancer clinical trials.


Information on the costs of care for 70 cancer patients treated for 6 months in 5 cancer centers was gathered. Half of the patients were enrolled in phase II cancer clinical trials during the study period and half were not.


  • The average medical costs for these two groups of patients were similar.
  • Total treatment charges for patients enrolled in clinical studies averaged $57,542, while the costs of treating other patients averaged $63,721.


In this study, the costs of treating cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials were no higher than the costs incurred with standard treatment. In June 2000, President Clinton ordered Medicare to reimburse expenses for medical care delivered in the context of clinical trials. This finding should help to remove at least one barrier that stands in the way of enrolling patients into studies of new cancer treatment regimens.


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