KEY TAKEAWAY: As ASCO is well under way the issue of drug pricing is once again taking center stage. “These drugs cost too much,” Leonard Saltz, chief of gastrointestinal oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said in a speech heard by thousands of doctors here for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
“Cancer-drug prices are not related to the value of the drug,” Dr. Saltz said. “Prices are based on what has come before and what the seller believes the market will bear.”
A million dollars for a cancer drug? As the following slide from ASCO illustrates, it’s already happening and some doctors and payers have said enough is enough. Express Scripts wants a “pay for performance model” when it comes to oncology drugs and as the article linked above indicates a lot of doctors are losing faith in drug company pricing models.
Empowered Patients Left In The Cold
So where does all the data coming out of ASCO leave newly diagnosed patients? Confused and bewildered. There are so many press releases about the effectiveness of drug and drug combinations that one oncologist told me “none of this means a hell of a lot until I see data 4-6 months from now”. She also said “what works for one patient is not going to work for another”.
So if you want to better understand your treatment options you’re back to relying on the expertise of your doctor, not the propaganda meant to inflate drug company stock prices.
Starting tonight, on NBC News, there is going to be a series on how cancer drug prices are hurting patients and you can bet it’s not going to be kind to the drug industry. With these high prices the drug industry is slowly forcing legislators to take action and finally consider a single payer system.