This is too often the case: With the promise of a new cure comesthe promise of increased costs.

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A number of cancer researchers believethat the best way to treat the ubiquitous disease will increasinglyinvolve using a combination of different drugs.

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For instance, Lake Bluff, Ill.-based drug maker AbbVie Inc. hopes thatcombining two of its drugs, Imbruvica and Venclexta, will yield amore effective treatment of a certain strain of leukemia. Theproblem? Each drug costs more than $100,000 for one year oftreatment.

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Another recent example comes out of a conference of the American Society ofClinical Oncology in Chicago, where a team of researchersreported that a three-drug cocktail appeared to be more effectivein treating multiple myeloma than the conventional two-drugcombination. But adding that third drug, Darzalex, to treatmultiple myeloma would bring the annual treatment cost to $180,000,up from roughly $45,000.

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In its clinical study of the new drug combination on 500patients, New Brunswick, N.J.-based pharmaceutical and consumergoods giant Johnson& Johnson found that adding Darzalex reduced mortality by61 percent over a period of seven and a half months.

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While pharmaceutical companies often offer discounts onsky-high-priced drugs to insurers and providers, Johnson &Johnson is mum on what types of deals, if any, it could offer. Themedicine has yet to pass regulatory approval in the UnitedStates.

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In many instances, the benefits of a costly combination will notbe as clear as Darzalex appears to be.

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“We have to think about if the benefit from combinationtherapies is worth the cost,” Daniel Goldstein, a medicaloncologist at Rabin Medical Center in Israel, told the Wall StreetJournal.

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A.G. Roche, the maker of a number of powerful cancer drugs, toldThe Wall Street Journal it is adapting its prices to thenew landscape in some ways. It has priced a new breast cancermedication, Perjeta, lower than usual because it is intended to beused in combination with another one of its drugs, Herceptin.

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If costly combinations become mainstream, one can expect therewill be an even stronger push to reform the wasteful way thatcancer drugs are stored and distributed. A recent study showed thatbillions of dollars of cancermedication is thrown away each year because the vialsin which they are distributed contain far more medication than isnecessary.

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