Next-gen prostate cancer Dx faces skepticism, competition

Myriad Genetics ($MYGN) and Genomic Health lead the bill of companies introducing new prostate cancer diagnostics that promise to change the standard of care, but as the market crowds, payers may balk at the cost while physicians struggle to decide which test is best.

As The New York Times reports, molecular diagnostics companies are targeting prostate cancer, which is right now largely diagnosed through blood tests for a single protein, an inefficient method.

But while molecular diagnostic options from the likes of Hologic ($HOLX) and MDxHealth have data to back up their efficacy, convincing payers to shell out for a test that may not dissuade men from getting treatment no matter the result is another issue.

The new tests go for upwards of $3,000, the Times reports, and many patients elect to undergo prostate cancer treatment even when molecular diagnostic assays say their risk is low. With that in mind, Medicare contractor Noridian declined to reimburse for Myriad's Prolaris, which costs $3,400 a pop, the newspaper notes.

But the companies insist that no matter the front-end cost for the tests, disqualifying patients who don't need exceedingly costly cancer treatments will be a net savings for the entire healthcare system, and while molecular diagnostics for prostate cancer are hardly perfect, they boast better results than standard methods, experts say.

"Even if we can only convince 15% to 20% of men that we have enough confidence that they don't need to be treated, that will be a big step forward," the Cleveland Clinic's Eric Klein told the Times.

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