Oncologist: cancer drugs often overpriced and often ineffective

Oncologist: cancer drugs often overpriced and often ineffective

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Cancer drugs are often overpriced and sometimes ineffective
Cancer specialists estimate that there are at least half a dozen cancer drugs that are completely overpriced. These drugs include, for example, drugs that have been developed for the treatment of colon cancer. "Their price can exceed $ 100,000 annually," the experts told Reuters.

The sale of cancer drugs is a rapidly growing market. Global spending on these drugs reached over $ 100 billion in 2014. Spending increases by about ten percent from year to year. Many companies are now trying to secure a piece of the cake. For this reason, more and more new products are being developed. Some have poor healing properties and many are overpriced. Dr. Peter Bach from the "Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center" in New York that there would be senseless drugs.

Given its low benefit, the price is far too high. There are drugs that cost $ 10,000 a month. With these medicines, the life of the sufferer is usually only extended by a few weeks. The Kaiser Family Foundation said that more than a quarter of health insurance spending for seniors in America is for people in their last year of life.

A few weeks longer life for a lot of money
Some doctors claim that a few weeks longer life is also worth very strong side effects, at least for some people. For other sufferers, the potential benefits cannot outweigh the costs.

Colon cancer drugs massively overpriced
Medications such as Cyramza and Avastin have been developed to treat advanced colon cancer in combination with chemotherapy. Eli Lilly & Co launched Cyramza in 2014. The drug was originally intended to be used against stomach cancer. Then the drug was also used to fight colon cancer. Here it competed with Avastin from Roche Holding AG. Cyramza was sold at double the price of Avastin. Dr. Leonard Saltz, director of gastrointestinal oncology at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said that he knew of no one who used Cyramza against colorectal cancer. Competitor Avastin extends life expectancy by at least four to six weeks compared to chemotherapy without similar products. This drug is also massively overpriced and is used too often.

Manufacturers see a high medical need for their products
Cyramza maker Lilly said there is a high medical need for their product. Lowell Schnipper of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, however, said that Cyramza has extremely limited benefits for the price of $ 7-9,000 a month. Bayer sees its Stivarga product as an important and affordable treatment option. The cost of a complete treatment with Stivarga is just under $ 70,000.

Cancer drug pricing system needs to be revised
In America, most patients pay most of their healthcare costs themselves. This takes the form of higher contributions, additional payments and premiums. Some insurance companies require additional payments from their patients of up to 30 percent for cancer drugs. Many still have a cap on these costs. Under President Obama, the upper limits for additional payments for individual consumers were set at $ 6,600 and for families at $ 13,200. Nevertheless, it is important that the pricing system is revised and controlled more strictly. A drug that is less effective than its competitor shouldn't cost more.

Treatment costs for cancer are steadily increasing
Out of 51 treatments for cancer drugs between 2009 and 2013, 21 treatments had an average annual price of $ 116,100. The prices for newer products for the remaining 30 drugs were around $ 119,765 a year, according to a study by the American Medical Association Oncology. The cost of treatment is constantly increasing. In 1995, sufferers and their insurer paid approximately $ 54,100 for an additional year of life. In 2013, the price is now $ 207,000. This was the result of a study by the "National Bureau of Economic Research".

Dr. Saltz said that Cyramza would cost a lot to treat colorectal cancer, but would not do anything. The assessment of the use of very expensive drugs, which can only show very small successes, is more problematic. A good example of this is Stivarga. It costs around $ 12,000 to $ 13,000 a month. Consumers often feel tired and get a rash on their hands and feet. Insurance companies pay grants, but patients have to pay a substantial amount in advance. Saltz said that when the drug was new, he prescribed it more often. Then he realized that most of the patients felt worse. Nowadays, the doctor explains long and in detail what effects and side effects the medicine has. Most of his patients therefore choose not to use the drug. (as)

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