Cancer is a difficult disease to treat not only because it's complex but also because it's costly. But how expensive is it? It can cost patients more than half their annual income.
The rising costs of cancer drugs have compelled 118 oncologists and experts from some of the biggest and well-known hospitals and cancer centers in the country to draft recommendations for cheaper medications and hopefully better quality of life for patients.
Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, lead author of the editorial that appeared on peer-review journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings on July 23, 2015, stated that cancer drugs can cost around $120,000 each year. Even with insurance, out-of-pocket cost can still reach $30,000, which is beyond 50% of a typical household income of $52,000. This is one of the reasons why a significant number of patients fail to follow through with their treatment.
As cancer rates may increase in the future, it's best to put up controls on drug prices. The group suggests allowing importation for personal medication. Canada, for instance, has lower prices than the United States. They also propose a review procedure for drug approval that would help new drugs with good value become more competitive in the market.
Medicare, on the other hand, should be permitted to negotiate prices while organizations and Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute should have the chance to assess new treatment modalities as to their effectiveness and value.
The group also touched on legalities including preventing companies from holding on to important patents for a very long time they become a monopoly or exercise exclusivity. The government may also have to create a policy to avoid delayed access on generic medications.
At the end of the editorial, the group is standing by Concerned Citizens, a group of people in Change.org calling on lower cancer drugs. So far, more than 9,000 out of 10,000 needed signatures have been collected.