Dollars spent on cancer drugs increased from $26.8 billion in 2011 to $42.1 billion in 2016, according to the results of a study reported in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Researchers conducting the retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of IQVIA National Sales Perspective data from January 1, 2011–December 31, 2016 found that the highest overall expenditures for injectable agents were for rituximab, bevacizumab, and trastuzumab. The three drugs that saw the largest increases from their first year on the market to 2016 were nivolumab (238% increase from 2015–2016), pertuzumab (80% increase from 2013–2016), and pembrolizumab (84% increase from 2015–2016). 

The study authors said the increases weren’t unexpected because of the costs of continually developing and approving targeted therapies. They encouraged future policies to focus on “ensuring safe and appropriate use of antineoplastics while balancing long-term drug costs” and called for strategies that would not restrict access to drugs or disrupt innovation.