The rise in cancer-drug prices is a microcosm of broader trends pushing up health care costs nationally. Despite decades of efforts by governments and insurers to restrain costs, patients continue to want the newest — and most expensive — drugs and medical devices. And doctors and the health care industry have little reason to keep costs in check, because insurers rarely deny coverage for new treatments on the basis of price.And the insurance companies are not the only ones that face the higher price:
Drug industry experts say Abraxane’s price reflects the fact that makers of cancer drugs can charge high prices for new medicines even if they are only marginally better than their older counterparts. That pricing dynamic is enabled by insurance, which shields patients from the full price of drugs. Without pressure from their insurers, patients have little reason to choose older treatments over expensive new therapies.
Even if they have insurance, many patients face co-payments of 20 percent for their cancer drugs, an expense that can become ruinous for patients receiving combination therapy with several new drugs. For example, Abraxane is being tested along with Avastin, a treatment from Genentech that costs $8,000 a month for some patients.Here are some questions that go along with the article from Sarah:
Drug costs are rising so fast that some patients cannot afford the newest treatments, and access to some therapies “is beginning to be eroded,” Ms. Hinestrosa said.
What are the problems of this current system and what can be done to limit the prices of these not even miracle drugs? What are the long term effects of this trend and is it caused only by increased demand by consumers?(Question posed by Sarah O.)