This is a reblog of a post I wrote on the #LCSM Chat site (used with permission).
A July 23 article in Newsweek titled “The High Cost of Cancer Care: Your Money or Your Life?” emphasizes a topic of increasing concern: the escalating costs of new cancer drugs, and the toll this takes on patients and families.
A presentation at ASCO 2015 titled “Perspectives in Value” graphically showed the escalating price of cancer drugs in recent years, and how those prices soar off the charts for some new immunotherapies.
The presentation also showed how prices of targeted therapy drugs don’t seem to go down as more patients use them. In fact, the price of Gleevec continued to rise even when a competing drug entered the market.
Cancer drugs are supposedly developed and marketed in a free-market economy, which assumes willing sellers negotiate with willing buyers to set a fair price. Healthcare systems in other countries do negotiate drug prices, and are able to offer drugs at lower prices than we see in the US. Healthcare systems in other countries do negotiate drug prices, and are able to offer drugs at lower prices than we see in the USA. However, USA insurance companies are captive buyers, and USA cancer patients are held hostage. Drug companies can charge whatever they want in the USA because no one is allowed to negotiate with them.
A group of doctors is encouraging patients and their families to support an online petition titled “Protest High Cancer Drug Prices so all Patients with Cancer have Access to Affordable Drugs to Save their Lives.” On August 13, 2015, at 8pm Eastern Time, moderator Janet Freeman-Daily (@JFreemanDaily) will lead #LCSM Chat as we discuss some issues raised by this petition:
T1: What are pros and cons of allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices? Will this lower the cost of cancer care?
T2: Should doctors prescribe an expensive cancer drug when the patient’s health plan will not cover the cost of the drug?
T3: Should health plans cover expensive drugs that add only 1-2 months of life if it means higher premiums for everyone?
T4: Besides signing the petition at https://www.change.org/p/secretary-of-health-and-human-services-protest-high-cancer-drug-prices-so-all-patients-with-cancer-have-access-to-affordable-drugs-to-save-their-lives?recruiter=239495071&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive, what actions can we take to reduce the cost of cancer care?
We hope you’ll join us on Thursday. For a primer on how to join #LCSM chat, check out How to Participate in LCSM Chat.