$100K cancer drug price tag drawing harsh criticism

$100K cancer drug price tag drawing harsh criticism

When a loved one has cancer, most people are willing to do—or pay—anything to find a cure.  And that’s exactly what the pharmaceutical industry relies on, according to a new editorial in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Nearly 120 physicians from 15 countries are voicing opposition against what they believe are unnecessarily high prices for cancer drugs.  The group of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) experts recently authored an editorial in which they draw attention to the issue.

“We believe drug prices should reflect objective measures of benefit, but should also not exceed values that harm our patients and societies,” wrote the physicians.

The cost of some life-saving cancer medications exceeds $100,000 per year, according to the editorial.  That price is unrelated to the actual cost of production, they say.

The authors argue that when a commodity affects the health of individuals, “just price should prevail because of moral implications.”  As examples, they cite the price of bread during a famine or the price of polio vaccination.

“As physicians, we follow the Hippocratic Oath of…above all, do no harm,” the authors wrote.

Not a new issue

Last fall, a group of physicians at a major cancer care center in New York penned a New York Times editorial in which they criticized the excessive cost of a colon cancer medicine.  The editorial generated so much publicity, that the producer of the drug decided to lower the price.

Now, the authors of the new editorial are hoping to achieve similar results.

“We propose to begin the dialogue by organizing regular meetings, involving all parties concerned, to address the reasons behind high cancer drug prices and offer solutions to reduce them,” the group wrote.  “Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.