Survival Gains Make CAR T-Cell Therapy Cost-Effective for Pediatric Leukemia

February 06, 2019 by Elisa Becze BA, ELS, Editor

When evaluated based on the cost per life-year gained, the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell immunotherapy drug tisgenlecleucel is considered cost effective in pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, researchers reported in a new study. The findings were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Immunotherapy such as CAR T-cell treatments are notoriously pricey. At $475,000, tisgenlecleucel’s one-time cost is the most expensive in cancer care. However, 4 in 10 patients receiving the drug have survived five years or more, making the incremental cost of therapy range from $37,000–$78,000 per quality-adjusted life year. The 40% survivor rate with tisgenlecleucel is much higher than the 10% survival rate with clofarabine.

The researchers cautioned that extended follow-up is not yet available because the agent is new, so the long-term benefit is still uncertain. Additionally, the cost effectiveness does not yet translate to treatment for adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


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