Value-Based Costing of Anti-Cancer Drugs: An Ethical Perspective Grounded in Catholic Teachings on Human Dignity and the Common Good

April 1, 2021
Edition: Spring 2021
Volume: 36
Issue: 1
Article: 3

Table of Contents


Americans have benefited from a declining cancer incidence and improving prognosis over the past two decades, during which time rising prices for anti-cancer drugs have proportionally outstripped rising expenditures for overall cancer care and total national health expenditures.  To meet the economic challenges, remedies have been proposed to base compensation on relative survival measurements perhaps taking into account associated drug toxicities, disabilities, and disease progression.  While there are advantages for knowing the economic costs determined from so-called, “value-based” methodologies, it must be recognized that the measured values are impersonal, incomplete, and always biased.  This article examines value-based costing of anti-cancer drugs in an individual and societal framework and advocates grounding decisions regarding cancer care and pharmaceutical costs on the ethical principles of human dignity and the common good.

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About the Authors

Affiliation: Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Creighton University School of Medicine.