Experts aim to draw attention to high cancer drug costs

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Experts Aim to Draw Attention to High Cancer Drug Costs
Experts Aim to Draw Attention to High Cancer Drug Costs

(HealthDay News) -- A group of more than 100 leukemia experts believes the current prices of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) drugs are too high, may compromise access of needy patients to highly effective therapy, and are harmful to the sustainability of national health care systems, according to an editorial published online April 25 in Blood.

A group of 100 experts discuss the high prices of approved tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of CML. Multiple factors involved in cancer drug pricing, their impact on individual patients and health care policies, and advocacy for the need to lower the prices of cancer drugs to allow improved access are addressed.

The authors note that the three new drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 are priced astronomically -- ponatinib at $138,000 per year, omacetaxine at $28,000 for induction and $14,000 per maintenance course, and bosutinib at about $118,000 per year. This reflects the general trend of high prices for new cancer drugs, with 11 of the 12 cancer drugs (for various indications) approved by the FDA in 2012 costing in excess of $100,000 per year. The authors argue that if a drug price reflects value, then it should be proportional to patient benefit derided using objective measures, such as survival prolongation, degree of tumor shrinkage, or improved quality of life.

"Pricing of cancer and other drugs involves complex societal and political issues which demand immediate attention, and which will need to consider many factors and involve many constituencies," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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