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Susan Young Rojahn

A View from Susan Young Rojahn

Cancer Drugs Should Cost Less, Say Doctors

Doctors argue that some drug companies are charging too much for their cancer drugs, to the detriment of patients.

  • April 29, 2013

A group of more than 100 cancer experts have called out drug companies for the high prices of cancer drugs. The doctors, all specialists in chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML,  published their opinion on what they call “astronomical” prices on Friday in the scientific journal Blood.

They write:

[We] believe the current prices of CML drugs are too high, unsustainable, may compromise access of needy patients to highly effective therapy, and are harmful to the sustainability of our national healthcare systems. These reflect the spiraling prices of cancer drugs in general. Of the 12 drugs approved by the FDA for various cancer indications in 2012, 11 were priced above $100,000 per year. Cancer drug prices have almost doubled from a decade ago, from an average of $5,000 per month to more than $10,000 per month.

The authors do acknowledge the need for pharmaceutical companies to be rewarded for “innovation and discoveries” and that the cost of bringing a new cancer drug to market is around $1 billion.

But the authors also suggest that current pricing, at least of some drugs, is too high and, as reported by the New York Times, “unsustainable and perhaps even immoral”:

The authors] suggested that charging high prices for a medicine needed to keep someone alive is profiteering, akin to jacking up the prices of essential goods after a natural disaster.

“Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients,” wrote the doctors in their commentary.  

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