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Cancer vaccine approved

Posted for Heidi Ledford

A controversial prostate cancer vaccine has become the first therapeutic cancer vaccine to receive regulatory approval in the United States.

On 29 April, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Provenge (sipuleucel-T) for the treatment of advanced hormone-resistant prostate cancer. Stock in Dendreon, the vaccine’s Seattle, Washington-based manufacturer, rose 27% on the announcement.

Provenge seemed on the cusp of approval three years ago, but the FDA demanded additional clinical trial data (see Nature 464, 1110-1111; 2010). The vaccine must be tailor-made from a patient’s own immune cells – unlike preventative vaccines, it actively fights prostate cancer after the disease has taken hold. That doesn’t come cheap: the treatment will cost about $93,000 per patient, the company said.


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    Sian Scullion said:

    $93,000 is a bargain when you consider it’s a life that’s being saved. And not just that one person’s life, but also their whole family’s lives are saved too. When you consider how much money is spent by developed countries of the world treating people’s self inflicted diseases like obesity and smoking-related diseases, and often linked diseases like heart disease and diabetes, it’s well worth paying $93,000 to save someone’s life from an unpredicted cancer such as prostate cancer.

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    Eduard Dolusic said:

    $93,000 is a bargain? Well, for some people, yes.

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    CWC said:

    The treatment doesn’t save lives per se (maybe a few), it extends them 4 months on average. Can we afford short life extension at $93,000 per treatment? As such treatments become more common, the cost of health care will skyrocket and eventually bankrupt the country. Read “Taming the Beloved Beast” by Daniel Callahan for a real education on the proper role of technology in health care.

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