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

It’s one of the most effective cancer treatments so far. And one of the most expensive cancer drugs ever.  Dr. Peter Bach, who studies drug pricing, says the price tag for two recently approved CAR-T cell drugs — one is $373,000 for a single dose, the other $475,000 — are benchmarks on the road to ever-higher cancer drug price tags.

The drugs’ sticker price is only the beginning. It doesn’t include pre-treatment tests and monitoring, costly tests such as PET scans to monitor the patients’ response, and sophisticated management of toxic side effects, which sometimes require administration of an antidote that itself costs tens of thousands of dollars a dose.

While insurance may cover a lot of the costs the out-of-pocket costs can wipe out the savings of a patient and their family.   According to an Asco National Survey in 2017:

Cost Is Biggest Barrier to Care

•[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] For those who are themselves or have a loved one going through treatment, more than two in five (44%) are concerned about the mounting cost.[/inlinetweet]

•[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Of those who have had cancer or have a loved one with cancer, most have taken no steps to reduce the cost of cancer treatment (73%).[/inlinetweet]

• However, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]the cost barrier leads to risky behaviors for some of those with personal cancer experience who take ill‐advised (and potentially dangerous) steps to bring down the cost of treatment.[/inlinetweet]

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Spending on cancer medicines in the U.S. has doubled since 2012,[/inlinetweet] reaching nearly $50 billion last year, thanks to a recent rush of new treatments that were launched at high prices. And this may be only the beginning:[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Spending is expected to roughly double — to $100 billion — by 2022, or from 12 percent to 15 percent annually, according to a new analysis.[/inlinetweet]

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]As the industry meets in Chicago at ASCO Oncologists and ASCO have the duty and the right to tell drug companies that the prices on cancer drugs are unacceptable[/inlinetweet].  Nobody should have to choose between therapy and being able to live the life they choose.