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IMS Health Finds Global Cancer Drug Spending Crossed $100 Billion Threshold in 2014

07 Oct 2015

Tor Constantino
IMS Health


Five-Year Growth Averages 6.5 Percent; Higher Prevalence of Cancers, Earlier Treatments, Innovative Therapies, Improved Survival Rates Transform Clinical Landscape 

PARSIPPANY, NJ, May 5, 2015 – Earlier diagnosis, longer treatment duration and increased effectiveness of drug therapies are contributing to rising levels of spending on medicines for cancer care. According to a new report released today by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, total global spending on oncology medicines – including therapeutic treatments and supportive care – reached the $100 billion threshold in 2014, even as the share of total medicine spending of oncologics increased only modestly.  

Growth in global spending on cancer drugs – measured using ex-manufacturer prices and not reflecting off-invoice discounts, rebates or patient access programs – increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 percent on a constant-dollar basis during the past five years. Oncology spending remains concentrated among the U.S. and five largest European countries, which together account for 66 percent of the total market, while the rising prevalence of cancer and greater patient access to treatments in pharmerging nations continues to grow and now accounts for 13 percent of the market.

The study – Developments in Cancer Treatments, Market Dynamics, Patient Access and Value: Global Oncology Trend Report – is a comprehensive review and updated perspective on the current and future clinical landscape, marketplace dynamics for oncology-related pharmaceuticals, and patient access to medicines and their value.

Targeted therapies have dramatically increased their share of the total global oncology spend, rising 14.6 percent CAGR during the past five years with steady increases across all regions. At the same time, payers and national health systems have intensified their scrutiny of the value of these medicines relative to their incremental benefits over existing treatments, with cost effectiveness assessments frequently resulting in limited patient access to these drugs. Access and reimbursement issues are likely to become more complicated in coming years as individual and combination oncology medicines address multiple cancer types and patient populations  with varying dosage and clinical value.

 “The increased prevalence of most cancers, earlier treatment initiation, new medicines and improved outcomes are all contributing to the greater demand for oncology therapeutics around the world,” said Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “Innovative therapeutic classes, combination therapies and the use of biomarkers will change the landscape over the next several years, holding out the promise of substantial improvements in survival with lower toxicity for cancer patients.”

The report’s key findings include the following:

  • Global oncology market continues to experience steady growth. The global market for oncology drugs, including those used in supportive care, increased 10.3 percent in 2014 and reached $100 billion, up from $75 billion five years earlier. The compound annual growth rate in spending over the past five years has been 6.5 percent globally on a constant exchange rate basis. Growth in the U.S. has risen more slowly at 5.3 percent CAGR, reaching $42.4 billion in 2014. Oncology drug spending has risen slightly as a percentage of total drug spending over the past five years in all regions, most notably in the EU5 countries where oncology now represents 14.7 percent of total drug spending, up from 13.3 percent in 2010. Within the U.S., the increase has been more modest, rising to 11.3 percent from 10.7 percent over the same period. Targeted therapies now account for nearly 50 percent of total spending and have been growing at 14.6 percent CAGR since 2009. 
  • Clinical outcomes are improving for major cancers. In most instances, five-year survival rates have risen through continuous and small improvements in detection and treatment – including refinements with existing treatments and gains from new treatment options. Within the U.S., two-thirds of Americans diagnosed with cancer now live at least five years, compared to just over half in 1990. The strong pipeline of medicines in clinical development include new “immuno-oncologics” that hold out the promise of improved survival with lower toxicity for some patients, as well as  combination therapies that can address multiple pathways in a tumor, potentially leading to substantial increases in survival. Additionally, therapeutic effectiveness in multiple genetic subpopulations is being improved through the use of real-world evidence from deep biomarker data linked to treatment information. Molecular diagnostics are rapidly transforming drug development and patient selection, but only one-third of new oncology drugs have an identified biomarker at time of launch.
  • Patient access to cancer drugs varies across all markets. The availability of new oncology medicines varies widely across the major developed countries, with patients in Japan, Spain and South Korea having access in 2014 to fewer than half of the new cancer drugs launched globally in the prior five years. In pharmerging markets, availability of newer targeted therapies remains low but is increasing. Even among wealthy countries, new drugs may not be reimbursed and, as a result, will only reach a very small number of patients. Average therapy treatment costs per month have increased 39 percent in the U.S. over the past ten years in inflation-adjusted terms. Over the same period, patient response rates have improved by 42 percent and treatment duration has increased 45 percent, reflecting improved survival rates. Within the U.S., patient out-of-pocket costs have risen sharply for intravenous cancer drugs, increasing 71 percent from 2012 to 2013, reflecting changes in plan designs and increased outpatient facility costs.
  • Patients are engaging social media and online networks throughout their cancer journey. Public discussion boards, followed by Twitter, are the most dominant channels used by patients during their cancer journey as they proactively engage on a wide range of topics including conversations regarding treatment options and financial concerns. In a six-month assessment of social media discussions related to prostate cancer, the most frequent topic of discussion was treatment options, followed by financial concerns.    

The full version of the report, including a detailed description of the methodology, is available at It can also be downloaded as an app via iTunes at study was produced independently as a public service, without industry or government funding.

About the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics 
The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics provides key policy setters and decision makers in the global health sector with unique and transformational insights into healthcare dynamics derived from granular analysis of information. It is a research-driven entity with a worldwide reach that collaborates with external healthcare experts from across academia and the public and private sectors to objectively apply IMS Health’s proprietary global information and analytical assets. More information about the IMS Institute can be found at:

About IMS Health
IMS Health (NYSE:IMS) is a leading global information and technology services company providing clients in the healthcare industry with comprehensive solutions to measure and improve their performance. End-to-end proprietary applications and configurable solutions connect 10+ petabytes of complex healthcare data through the IMS One™ cloud-based master data management platform, providing comprehensive insights into diseases, treatments, costs and outcomes. The company’s 15,000 employees blend global consistency and local market knowledge across 100 countries to help clients run their operations more efficiently. Customers include pharmaceutical, consumer health and medical device manufacturers and distributors, providers, payers, government agencies, policymakers, researchers and the financial community.

As a global leader in protecting individual patient privacy, IMS Health uses anonymous healthcare data to deliver critical, real-world disease and treatment insights. These insights help biotech and pharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, government agencies, payers and other healthcare stakeholders to identify unmet treatment needs and understand the effectiveness and value of pharmaceutical products in improving overall health outcomes. Additional information is available at