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Dostarlimab price is sky high but promise shown in cancer drug trial results

Darcy Rafter June 7, 2022
Pipetting sample into micro well plate while doing research on biotechnology


There have been claims a new cancer drug trial using Dostarlimab produced “shock” results, according to a report published in The New England Journal Of Medicine (NEJM). However, the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) drug used during the trial comes at a sky-high price.

The 18-person drug trial conducted at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York City claimed every patient treated saw their cancer go into remission, signalling a promising breakthrough in the treatment of rectal cancer.

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Price of Dostarlimab is sky high

Dostarlimab is also known by the brand name Jemparli and was first approved in the US for use as a cancer treatment in 2021. The drug unmasks cancer cells in the immune system and helps to destroy them.

The report in NEJM states the medication costs about $11,000 per 500mg dose in the US. In the UK, it is sold for £5,887.33 per 500mg vial, Nice reports. However, the NHS has a discounted price from manufacturer GSK as Dostarlimab is already used in the treatment of advanced endometrial cancer.

Use of Dostarlimab in ‘shock’ drug trial

The first clinical investigation signified it is also effective against rectal cancer tumours. The positive results were seen in 18 patients, who all had tumours with genetic mutations called mismatch repair deficiency (MMRd).

Following treatment, all patients showed a “clinical complete response”, the report claimed, with no evidence of tumours in follow-up tests such as MRI scans, PET scans, endoscopy and biopsy.

“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” medical oncologist Luis Diaz Jr, reporting the results, told The New York Times.

Patients with these tumours tend to be less responsive to chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Most undergo surgical removal of their tumours. However, most still undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy before the surgery. MSK reported these have long-lasting consequences including bowel and bladder dysfunction, infertility and sexual dysfunction.

“The standard treatment for rectal cancer with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can be particularly hard on people because of the location of the tumour,” MSK medical oncologist Andrea Cercek, the initial author of the study, said.

Dostarlimab clinical investigation sees ‘no cancer regrowth’

From the Dostarlimab clinical investigation, it was reported some patients experienced mild or moderate side effects including rashes, itching, fatigue and nausea. However, it was reported none had seen a regrowth of cancer cells so far, with the current follow-up appointments being at one year and, for some patients, two years.

MSK said the breakthrough signalled a promising future in the development of a new kind of cancer therapy, while the approach might also help patients with other tumours that have MMRd, such as some types of stomach, prostate and pancreatic cancer.

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Darcy is an experienced journalist passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. After gaining a degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University she has also become a social media specialist, always keeping informed on the latest trends. With almost five years of experience in media, her expertise is analysing platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. When she's not tracking the latest trending content, she’s watching films and eating lots of chocolate.