Treating Cancer Has Become More Expensive. What to Do?
USA – May 25, 2018
Cancer drug spending has doubled in last five years to $100,000 on average, or more, in 2017.
The data was presented by The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, formerly IMS Health and Quintiles. The average cost of a new drug is $150,000, the specialists said.
“Global spending on cancer medicines — both for therapeutic and supportive care use — rose to $133 billion globally in 2017, up from $96 billion in 2013,” said medical experts.
It is expected that the cost will double again by 2022. And despite outrage among consumers, cancer patients with commercial health insurance pay an average of $500 for out-of-pocket expenses a year for these drugs.
“For retail drugs, the extensive use of coupons helps offset patient out-of-pocket costs.” specialists said.
David Mitchell, a cancer patient who founded the group Patients for Affordable Drugs, said if health insurance companies are shouldering these costs, they’re passing them along to customers in the form of higher premiums.
Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the USA and in most other industrialized countries. For some states, it’s the No. 1 cause of death. The American Cancer Society (ACS) predicts that 1.7 million people could be diagnosed with cancer in the USA in 2018, and more than 609,000 could die from it.
So the issue of the affordability of cancer medications remains an important one.
Treatments for cancer has evolved considerably in recent years. Chemotherapy is toxic and has hit-and-miss success because it relies on killing rapidly growing cells. But that approach has a drawback. It can take out healthy tissue in the gut and also make hair fall out. Targeted approaches help reduce toxicity and result in patients living longer.
Eight of the new drugs launched in 2017 were pills, including new drugs to treat breast cancer, lung cancer, some types of leukemia and ovarian cancer.
There were two new therapies approved in 2017. One of them called "tisagenlecleucel" treats a type of acute leukemia and costs $475,000. Another called "axicabtagene" ciloleucel treats a precursor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and costs $373,000.