Cost of Cancer Drugs Adversely Affecting Cancer Patients

The Journal of Economic Perspectives published a study that found the costs associated with cancer drugs have increased by $8,500 a year over the last 15 years.

Americans have a 1 in 3 chance of developing cancer within their lifetimes

A study produced by the Duke Clinical Research Institute attempted to understand the impact of health care related expenses on the treatment and well-being of insured cancer patients who requested copayment assistance.

They found that among 254 participants 42% suffered from significant financial burdens that required them to cut back on spending in categories including leisure, food, and clothing. 46% of those surveyed used savings to cover some of the out-of-pocket expenses. In an attempt to minimize the costs associated with drugs used during cancer treatment 20% took less than the amount they were prescribed.

The high price of cancer drugs creates different outcomes based on economic status.

Recommendations from Experts on Pharmaceutical Reform

Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic says, “High cancer-drug prices are affecting the care of patients with cancer and our health care system.”

Tefferi and 117 of his colleagues agreed on seven recommendations to address the unfair costs associated with cancer drugs. The Mayo Clinic Proceedings published these recommendations.

One of those recommendations is to allow cancer drugs to be imported across the border for personal use. Prices in Canada are about half the prices in the U.S.

Additional recommendations include allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, passing legislation to inhibit drug companies from delaying access to generic drugs, and creating a post-U.S. FDA drug approval review mechanism to offer fair pricing for new treatments based on value to patients. A comprehensive list of all the recommendations may be found here.

Calling for Action

Tefferi and his colleagues are in support of a petitionon that calls on the President, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Members of the United States Congress to implement their suggestions. The petition accurately states that exorbitant prices of cancer drugs are decreasing the life span of patients who cannot afford treatment.

The petition has a goal of 15,000 signatures and has, as of now, collected just under 14,000 signatures.


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