Discrepancies Between the Cost of Advanced Lung Cancer Treatment and How Much Is Reimbursed by the Brazilian Public Healthcare System [Editor's Choice]



Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, and most patients are diagnosed of advanced disease. Molecular-targeted therapy and immunotherapy increase survival among these patients. In this study, we compared the cost of the best treatments available with the amount reimbursed by the Brazilian public healthcare system (Sistema Único de Saúde [SUS]) to treat advanced lung cancer.


The authors divided lung cancer into 10 subtypes according to histology and molecular profile. A panel of experts defined the best treatment sequencing for each subtype. The authors considered only drug costs retrieved from the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency official data. The progression-free survival of each regimen was considered as treatment duration. The cost estimate included all postprogression therapies weighted by each subtype proportional frequency. The amount reimbursed by SUS was the sum of the monthly budget accumulated during the estimated treatment duration and then for the proportional frequency of each subtype.


The budget reimbursed by SUS for treating each advanced lung cancer case in Brazil is R$8000.00 in average whereas the cost estimate for the best treatment available is R$729 454.00 per case, which represents a difference of 9118%. The budget impact to ensure the reimbursement needed to acquire the best treatments available was estimated in near R$13 billion annually.


The cost estimate of the best treatment available for advanced lung cancer in Brazil is much higher than the amount reimbursed by SUS. This budgetary gap leads to a major access barrier that may compromise the survival outcomes of SUS users.


Marina Kelner Bruna Carvalho da Silva Tatiane Montella Pedro Nazareth Aguiar Gilberto Lopes Carlos G. Ferreira Pedro De Marchi

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