High Cancer Drug Prices Are NOT Making Health Care Costs 'Unsustainable"

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  • 11/30/2014
Hagop Kantarjian and Peter Bach claim drug prices have doubled in the past decade, from an average of $5,000 per month to more than $10,000.

Eleven of the 12 cancer drugs the Food and Drug Administration approved for fighting cancer in 2012 were priced at more than $100,000 per year, double the average annual household income, according to a report by the Journal of National Cancer Institute.

Those claims are inaccurate at best and lies at worst. 

First,  as a Milliman study showss, the average cost of chemotherapy is about $25000.  A far cry from the $120K Kantarjian and Bacn assert.  

And while most of the new targeted cancer drugs are expensive, the average price -- including a standard discount and not counting any patient assistance -- is $5000 a month.  

The fact is,  cancer drugs, as a percentage of what people spend, of cancer care and total health care spending is small.   

An HHS study shows that prescription drugs, on average, cost people with cancer about $800 a year.   

 Kantarjian and others claim cancer drug prices cause bankruptcy.  Also misleading.   Cancer patients filing for bankruptcy comprise  2.2 percent of total filings. That's about 36,000 people a year.  The vast majority are low income and are unemployed.   That is a financially crushing combination for many more cancer patients beyond those who file for bankruptcy.  But drug prices are not to blame.

It is true that many more people are paying thousdands for cancer drugs but as my next blog reveals the Kantarjians and Bachs of the world deliberately ignore the role insurance comapne play in turning life saving drugs into a finanially sickening challenges.   More on that in my next post.  



Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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