ASCO: More about investors than patients?

  • The global market for oncology therapeutic medicines will reach as much as $200 billion by 2022, averaging 10 to 13 percent growth over the next five years, with the U.S. market reaching as much as $100 billion by 2022, averaging 12 to 15 percent growth.
  • Spending on cancer drugs has doubled over the past five years.
  • The average cost of a new drug released in 2017 was $150,000.
  • Cancer drug costs are expected to double again by 2022.
  • While cancer rates and rates of death have been steadily dropping, drug spending will go up.

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The increase in cancer drug prices is harming our patients and our health care system

  • Americans paid twice as much as Canadians for health care, but they didn’t get twice the benefit, according to a new study of patients with advanced colorectal cancer who lived, in some cases, mere miles from each other.
  • The increase in cancer drug prices in the last 15 years has many contributing factors and is harming our patients and our health care system.
  • With typical out-of-pocket expenses of 20% to 30%, the financial burden of cancer treatment would be $20,000 to 30,000 a year, nearly half of the average annual household income in the United States. Many patients (estimated 10% to 20%) may decide not to take the treatment or may compromise significantly on the treatment plan. Source: Journal of Oncology Practice

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Putting drug prices in the spotlight misses the big picture

  • Despite the media’s attention to high drug prices our national healthcare costs are going to continue to climb rapidly.
  • Spending on ambulatory care, which includes ER and outpatient hospital services, also played a role in increased overall costs. Annual spending on ambulatory care swelled from $381.5 billion in 1996 to $706.4 billion in 2013. This increase, about $324 billion, was higher than any of the other five types of care analyzed.
  • A survey revealed that only 20.6 percent of people met the total recommended amounts of exercise — about 23 percent of all surveyed men and 18 percent of surveyed women.
  • Medical costs linked to obesity were estimated to be $147 billion in 2008. Annual medical costs for people who were obese were $1,429 higher than those for people of normal weight in 2006.

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What’s three more months of life worth?

  • The cost of new anti-cancer drugs increased more than fivefold from 2006 to 2015.
  • Anticancer medications account for the lion’s share of global drug spending, and the average price per month of these drugs is known to have more than doubled in recent years
  • Cost is not connected with benefit, and cost is going up quickly, and benefit is highly variable.
  • ASCO and other groups are supporting efforts to make cancer drug costs relate to their effectiveness.

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Common sense in the drug pricing debate

High drug prices are largely blamed on the pharmaceutical companies, but before we can have a common sense debate we need to look at overall health care costs.  In 2013 the U.S. spent 17.1% of its total GDP on healthcare, 50% more than the second highest spending country, France (11.6%). In 2014, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion (a 5.0% increase from 2013) on personal health care expenditures, in 2015 the U.S. spent $3.2 trillion, which is about 17.8%. Prescription drugs account for only $.10-$.12 of every healthcare dollar spent. Even if all prescription drugs were free our healthcare costs would still be increasing. Continue reading

Truths and fiction within the drug market

  • Drugs are more expensive in America than anywhere else.
  • The president’s plan, which he called the “most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs”, lacks potency.
  • The price of drugs is based on what the market will bear.
  • The argument that  nine out of 10 big pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than on research is flawed as most of this marketing money is directed at the physicians who do the prescribing, rather than consumers and includes everything from medical journals to expenses for sales people.

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Branded drug makers made billions while blocking generics

  • Makers of brand-name drugs called out by the Trump administration for potentially stalling generic competition have hiked their prices by double-digit percentages since 2012 and cost Medicare and Medicaid nearly $12 billion in 2016, a Kaiser Health News analysis has found.
  • The analysis shows that drug companies that may have engaged in what FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called “shenanigans” to delay the entrance of cheaper competitors onto the market have indeed raised prices and cost taxpayers more money over time.
  • A KHN analysis found that 47 of the drugs cost Medicare and Medicaid almost $12 billion in 2016.

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