A group of 118 leading oncologists is urging pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of certain expensive cancer drugs. The doctors have informed that that the past one and half decades have witnessed an increase of $8,500 in the price of cancer drugs annually.
According to Mayo Clinic hematologist Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, excessively high price of cancer drugs is having a strong impact on the care patients diagnosed with cancer are receiving and is also affecting the country’s health system negatively. Dr. Tefferi is the leader of the study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The hematologist informed that on an average every household in America has a yearly gross income of $52,000. Due to the high price tag cancer drugs carry, an insured individual suffering from cancer needs $120,000 every year for buying a cancer drug; the out of pocket expenditure would be around $30,000. This means an average American would need to spend more than 50% of his or her household income for buying cancer drugs.
Another argument put forward by the oncologists is that cancer patients who are already held back significantly by the deadly disease should be spared from becoming victims of a financial ordeal.
Dr. Tefferi feels that a regulatory board consisting of experts from various fields should be set up for examining the cost of cancer drugs. According to him, the regulatory board should have commercial representatives, pathology experts, doctors, and government representatives including delegates from Medicare as members.
To execute this plan successfully, doctors are right now trying to pass a law that will allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.
The pharmaceutical companies, however, are not ready to welcome these actions of the oncologists. All the above-discussed arguments put forward by the oncologists have already been rejected by the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturing Association.
The association’s spokesman Robert Zirkelbach informed that expenditure for cancer drugs usually constitutes just around 20% of cancer treatment. This makes lowering the price of these drugs even more important.
According to oncologists who put this proposal together, importing expensive cancer medications from countries like Canada is essential as the drugs are much cheaper there compared to the United States.