Two articles are summarized below which address the drug Finasteride (Proscar 5mg and Propecia 1mg).
These article are very technical and may not be good reading, but I have put them here as part of my effort to educate the readership. Both of these articles discuss what we have learned on preventing prostate cancer with finasteride (very important as most men who live long enough will develop prostate cancer) and the cost/benefits of taking finasteride over time. In medical circles, these are controversial articles in many ways. I have included the comments of one doctor in the hair restoration field. Dr. Bill Reed, states: “An oversight on the author’s part that would probably negate the need to reduce the price of finasteride is the enhanced quality of having more hair! With regard to the authors’ basic approach, it’s an awkward premise to attempt to attribute a monetary value to quality. For example, is the real quality and value of treating BPH (enlarged prostate) with finasteride [to produce a] better sleep and absence of urgency or the money saved from a TURP? I’ve always loved how a healthier prostate and more hair probably go together with this drug [How does one quantify this value?]”
European Journal of Cancer. 2005 Jul 29; The article addresses the finasteride prostate cancer prevention trial (PCPT) and asks: What have we learned?
Author: Mellon JK., Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom.
In 2003, the first of two large NCI-sponsored prostate cancer chemoprevention trials was reported. The prostate cancer prevention trial (PCPT) demonstrated a 24.8% reduction in the prevalence of prostate cancer in men taking finasteride 5mg/d for 7years. However, despite the overall reduced risk of prostate cancer, men in the finasteride-treated arm of the study were more likely to develop high-grade disease. This article examines some of the controversies aroused by the PCPT and evaluates some of the arguments that have been advanced in an attempt to explain some of the unexpected outcomes of the study. In addition, some of the recent studies assessing the potential impact of an effective chemopreventive strategy on population mortality are reviewed. To conclude, there is some discussion of factors, which need to be openly discussed with male patients who might be considered for finasteride therapy.
The American Journal of Medicine. 2005 Aug;118(8):850-7. The article addresses the lifetime implications and cost-effectiveness of using finasteride to prevent prostate cancer.
Author: Zeliadt SB, Etzioni RD, Penson DF, Thompson IM, Ramsey SD., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash.; Health Services Department, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, Wash.
PURPOSE: We estimate the lifetime implications of daily treatment with finasteride following the results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT). In this trial, prostate cancer prevalence was reduced by 25%; however, an increase in the number of high-grade tumors among the treatment group necessitates the long-term projection of the likely benefits and costs. METHODS: We use a Markov decision analysis model with data from the trial, the SEER program, and published literature. The model measures the cost per life-year and cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained for a cohort of men age 55 years who initiate preventive treatment with finasteride. RESULTS: Finasteride is associated with a gain of 6 life-years per 1000 men treated at an incremental cost of $1,660,000 per life-year gained. The quality-adjusted analysis results in 46 QALYs gained per 1000 men treated at an incremental cost of $200,000 per QALY gained, due primarily to the favorable effects of finasteride on benign prostatic hyperplasia. Under the assumption that the increase in high-grade tumors observed among finasteride treated men is a pathologic artifact, the incremental costs are $290,000 per life-year gained and $130,000 per QALY gained. CONCLUSIONS: The cost burden associated with finasteride is substantial, while its survival benefit is small and only realized many years after initiating treatment. To achieve an incremental cost below $100,000 per QALY gained, the price of finasteride must be reduced by 50% from its current average wholesale price and finasteride must be shown to prevent high-grade as well as low-grade disease.