The requirement for new prescription drugs to justify their introduction in economic as well as clinical terms is being sought not only at the central, governmental, level but also at the level of the individual hospital and physician practice, where restrictions on prescribing are increasingly applied in an effort to contain costs. This was recently demonstrated in the case of Clodronate, a new agent with significant therapeutic benefits to offer in the treatment of metastatic bone disease. Pre-launch market research in several major markets amongst hospital cancer treatment specialists, whilst confirming the clinical utility of the product, surfaced concern at the possible cost implications of the new agent. The study strongly suggested that significant cost savings would be gained from using Clodronate if the compound provided a 20% or greater reduction in the incidence of these complications. This example illustrates the value of cost/benefit analyses in overcoming objections to the apparent high costs of new therapeutic agents by revealing the true costs of previous therapies, particularly if those therapies involve periods of hospital care which the new agent can reduce or avoid.
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