Background: In 1990, annual costs of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer reached nearly $100 billion and currently constitutes approximately 10% of breath care expenditures in the United States. As new and often more expensive therapies for cancer treatment become available, the health care decision-maker must consider the cost effectiveness of the therapy. Methods: Key principles of economic analyses and the inherent differences among these analyses are reviewed. Results: While pharmacoeconomic analyses are increasingly being used in treatment decision-making, several issues relating to study design, data collection, and research methods are controversial. Conclusions: Pharmacoeconomics analyses are necessary in the current health care environment, but the assumptions used within the analyses warrant careful evaluation.
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