Cancer Drug Pricing…..a national disgrace

Price drop for imitinab?.

Originally priced in 2001 at $40-$50,000/year, By 2012, imatinib (a revolutionary medication for chronic myelogenous leukemia) was priced at $92,000, and then jumped to $132,000 in 2014, and then to $146,000 in 2016 when the generic version became available.”

There has not been much decrease in pricing as noted in the article with the release of generics.

“The US has the dubious distinction of having the highest expenditures in healthcare, but ranks far from the top in terms of improvements in life expectancy, explained Lyman. “Part of this is driven by the cancer drug experience, and healthcare costs have risen faster than gross domestic product.”

“Cost escalation began in the early 2000s, and eventually exceeded the median household income of a typical family. The price tag of new cancer drugs now exceeds $10,000 per month ($120,000 annually), Lyman explained, which is several fold greater than the median household income (around $63,000 in 2018, according to official figures).”

Medicynical note: Imatinab, (Gleevac), was largely developed with government research funds and taken private in the late 90s by Novartis. Drugs trials for this tyrosine kinase inhibitor were very limited because the positive effects of drug treatment were impressive and immediately evident. When the drug came to market in 2001 it was priced at the $30,000 to $50,000/year, an unprecedented price at the time. The original price and subsequent increases as outlined were based on the “your money or your life” concept not development and/or manufacturing costs. As most of the development costs were paid by you and me through NIH and other Federal grants.

So why the price increases? And why no major decrease with the release of generics? Because……..we (congress and our governing bodies) allow drug companies to financially gouge the most vulnerable in our society. That’s what capitalism is about.

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