New Oncological Drugs: Analysis of Survival Gain

I Nuovi Farmaci in Oncologia e il Loro Beneficio in Termini Di Overall Survival


  • Nicoletta Martone Celgene Italia, Milano - Italy
  • Carlo Lucioni Health Publishing and Services, Milano - Italy
  • Silvio Mazzi Health Publishing and Services, Milano - Italy
  • Valeria Fadda Facoltà di Farmacia, Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Università di Firenze, Firenze - Italy



AIFA, Antineoplastic drugs, Survival


Cancer incidence is growing worldwide, boosting substantial investment in research and development for ever better therapies. The present study aims to evaluate the benefits from innovative drugs for oncology in terms of overall survival (OS, a gold standard), updating former publication findings on this issue. Survival gain was defined as the difference in median OS between research and control arms, respectively. Starting from regulatory approvals for reimbursement issued by AIFA (Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco) and officially published between January 2010 and July 2013, 39 pivotal trials were identified on antineoplastic agents (21 related to new chemical entities and 18 to therapeutic extensions). In seven studies, OS data was not reported nor could be reconstructed; so they were not included in the analysis. Among the remaining 32 studies, the survival gain was statistically significant (p <0.05) in 12 studies. It ranged from 22 months (rituximab + fludarabine + cyclophosphamide vs fludarabine + cyclophosphamide in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia) to 2.2 months (nab-paclitaxel vs conventional paclitaxel in women with breast cancer); the median value of the gain was 3.2 months and the mean value was 5.9 months (95% CI: 2.5-9.3). In the 20 studies where significance was not found in the median OS difference (though in most cases it was found if time-dependent endpoints were used as outcome measures), the survival gain ranged from 106 months (nilotinib vs imatinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia) to -2 (i.e. a survival loss) months (vandenatib vs placebo in patients with locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer); the median value was 2.3 months and the mean value was 14.5 months (95% CI:1.2-27.8). Though the median survival gains in both groups may look modest in absolute terms, they may nonetheless be valuable when cancer is particularly aggressive and death comes quickly. Moreover, gains may become considerable when measured in relative terms, meaning that a big step forwards has been made compared to the current situation.


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How to Cite

Martone, N., Lucioni, C., Mazzi, S., & Fadda, V. (2014). New Oncological Drugs: Analysis of Survival Gain: I Nuovi Farmaci in Oncologia e il Loro Beneficio in Termini Di Overall Survival. Global and Regional Health Technology Assessment, 1(1), 3–15.



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