In continuing coverage, NBC Nightly News reported, “The cost of cancer drugs has soared in recent years pushing so many patients to the brink of bankruptcy. Tonight, more than 100 of this country’s top cancer experts are fighting back.” NBC’s Ann Thompson said that “118 leading cancer specialists say drug companies must lower prices that can top 100,000 dollars a year.”
Medscape pointed out that “at the recent ASCO annual meeting…a leading oncologist warn[ed] that current pricing is unsustainable by highlighting a new immunotherapy that could cost more than $1 million per patient per year.” Meanwhile, also pointed out that in a full-length feature last year, Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FASCO, chief medical officer at ASCO, said, “Clearly, many therapies are complicated to develop and manufacture, and there are many failures; we recognize all that. We need innovation and drugs companies to be profitable to continue R&D, and we accept all of that.” However, “none of that provides the clear rationale for the current pricing schemata, he noted, because even drugs that are easy to develop, quick to manufacture, and receive support from foundations, government, and other sources still come out with a very high price.”
Meanwhile, NPR carried the transcript of an interview with Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Schilsky discussed ASCO’s cancer medication database, which gives medications a score based on how effective they are, and also provides cost information.
Rising cost of cancer drugs examined. Newsweek reports on the high cost of cancer medications, with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center leukemia department chair Dr. Hagop Kantarjian commenting “the prices today are essentially extortion, and people are being taken hostage.” In addition to highlighting biological factors necessitating more sophisticated treatment, the article draws attention to what Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, characterized as “a perfect storm of laws and regulations,” particularly the fact that Medicare is required to cover any drug the FDA approves. Newsweek also writes that “the US, because the pharmaceutical industry is insulated from the natural price controls of a competitive free market, Americans pay 50 to 100 percent more for the same drugs than patients in other countries.” The article concludes by highlighting “cautious” optimism as some drug makers show a willingness to cut costs.
From the news release of the American Association for Justice.