New research has revealed that since 2000, cancer has become one of the costliest and the most perilous illness to treat. The price of cancer medication has increased considerably and cancer drugs have become costlier in comparison to the medications that were used for treatment 15 years ago.
It is a well-known fact that cancer treatment can result in a massive cost for patient and still the quality of life of most of the sufferers doesn’t improve. The study has shown that in 2000, the monthly average cost of cancer medication was $1,869, while in 2014, the amount increased to $11,325. Pharmaceutical companies have raised the price of drugs which have shown impressive results. With the increase in the cost of treatment, many patients aren’t able to afford treatment.
The outcome has been arrived at subsequent to making adjustments for inflation. Among the cancer drugs available, one that has become extremely costly is imatinib or Gleevec that was launched in 2001 at a price of $3,346. In 2014, the price has gone up to $8,479, implying an average increase of 7.5% per year. Though patients do not have to pay the entire medication price since a part of it is covered by health insurance, still, the majority of the expenditure comes onto the patient.
The case persists even in the case where commercially insured health plans liberally cover cancer drugs that are primarily consumed orally.
“Patients are increasingly taking on the burden of paying for these high-cost specialty drugs as plans move toward use of higher deductibles and co-insurance – where a patient will pay a percentage of the drug cost rather than a flat copay,” said a study author, Dr. Stacie Dusetzina from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The increase in price has surprised many in the medical sciences field. Pharmaceutical companies and Universities have increased research and development funding on cancer research.
During the study, the UNC researchers analyzed the database provided by the TruvenHealth MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters. The data provided information regarding the reimbursements given under the commercial health plans for the cancer medications during 2000-2014.
According to a report in Beth Balen by World Tech Today, “These oral cancer drugs are typically less stressful on the patient than traditional chemotherapy treatments, but with increasing costs and high-deductible insurance plans, the patients are having to shoulder more of the costs. Just why the prices are going up so much is not an easy question, and there may not be a good answer.”
Shawn Osborne is the vice president of Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services at University Hospitals of Cleveland. He says the oral cancer drugs are “a more targeted therapy that’s typically more pleasant,” and that this increased attention may relate to higher prices. He also cited better outcomes that some of the drugs have shown, leading to manufacturers charging more.
“The study suggests that even after appropriate adjustments for inflation, orally administered cancer drugs are skyrocketing in price at an alarming rate. In addition, newer and more effective drugs are entering the market at much higher price points than existing drugs,” according to a news report published by Modern Readers.
From the year 2000 to 2014, a total of 32 new orally administered cancer drugs were introduced. In order to gauge the constantly changing costs, a research team made a comparison between new cancer drugs introduced between 2000 and 2010, and those that came after 2010.
A report published in ABC News said, “The average cost for certain orally administered treatments has increased dramatically, even after prices were adjusted for inflation, according to a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who examined data from a prescription drug database. Additionally, newer drugs cost far more than drugs already on the market, the study found.”
“The major trend here is that these products are just getting more expensive over time,” study author Stacie Dusetzina, of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, said in a statement today.