Use of oncology drugs in Japan compared to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA: A comparison based on data from 1999 to 2009.


Daniel Högberg*, Nobuo Koinuma, Nils Wilking and Bengt Jönsson

The development of new compounds over the past decades has provided a significant potential for improvements of cancer therapy and outcome. This study compares the use of oncology drugs in Japan with the use in the US and selected European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK). The patterns of use of cancer drugs differ between the countries. Japan, France and the US spend more per capita than most other countries in the world on cancer drugs, but Japan spends a larger share on cancer drugs that were launched in 1999 or earlier (“mature” drugs). One of the main factors behind the slow introduction and uptake of cancer drugs in Japan is a lengthy process for approval of new drugs. Economic evaluations of new drugs are not as frequent in Japan as in the US and in Europe. The use of generic drugs is also low in Japan compared to the US and the European countries. A greater use of generics and more comprehensive assessments of the clinical and economic value of treatments may improve the efficiency in the use of health care resources and facilitate the introduction of newer drugs.

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