How Much is a Year of Life Worth?
One of the biggest problems of 21st-century medical care is how to spend limited health care resources. Never has medicine been able to do so much. But as a society, the more we do for one patient, the more that cost is shared by everyone who purchases health insurance.
This piece by the always-amazing Radiolab examines a particular cancer drug called Zaltrap. Zaltrap is a drug that (hypothetically) cuts off the blood supply to a tumor, and the research has shown that getting this drug gives a typical cancer patient 42 more days of life on average.
So what's the problem? The drug costs $30,000 for a 3-month course of treatment. And this is in addition to all the other drugs that a cancer patient has to take (and of course, pay for).
What do you do as a doctor when deciding to recommend a drug that might extend someone's life but at a cost that might devastate their personal finances?
It's highly recommended listening: