More than half of European cancer drugs are ineffective
New research has found that over fifty percent of new cancer drugs on the European market do not help improve survival rate or quality of life when they are released.

By Stacey Carter | Jul 28, 2017

Over half of European cancer drugs on the market come with little evidence that they improve the survival or wellbeing of patients, a new study in the British Medical Journal reports.

Between 2009 and 2013, the European Medicines Agency approved 48 cancer drugs for use in 68 different situations. However, a team of researchers from the London School of Economics found that many of those medications proved to be ineffective.

They learned this by studying different clinical trials associated with the various medications and then looked to see if they helped patients over time. This revealed that at the time many therapies became available, nearly 66 had no proof they improved survival rate in the situations they were supposed to be sued for.

While 10 percent of the drugs did improve quality of life, roughly 57 percent showed no positive benefits.

"We wanted to see once [the drugs] were already on the market did they actually generate some evidence to show that they improved or extended life," said study co-author Huseyin Naci, assistant professor of health policy at the London School of Economics, according to The Guardian.

Scientists also discovered that after a three-to-eight-year follow-up period, 49 percent of the approved medications showed no clear sign of improvement for both survival or quality of life. This likely occurred because only a few studies looked at such attributes as their main objective. Rather, most trials examined indirect measures, such as x-rays or laboratory tests.

While the data shows a concerning trend, the team in the study believe it is not cause for worry just yet. More research needs to be done before any strong conclusions can be made.

However, scientists do believe the lack of proper testing with regards to survival is disappointing. They hope the new research will lead to tighter guidelines and help the team better evaluate different cancer drugs. It could also provide information about the topic and shows there is still a lot scientists need to learn.

"The study does highlight the importance of using real-world evidence from patients, on top of data from clinical trials, to build our understanding of how drugs work in a real-life setting," said Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK's director of policy who was not involved in the study, according to Telegraph UK.

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