MINN. – A group of 118 of the nation's leading cancer
experts have drafted a prescription for reducing the high cost
of cancer drugs and voiced support for a patient-based
grassroots movement demanding action on the issue. Their
recommendations and support are outlined in a commentary,
co-authored by the group, in the journal Mayo Clinic
cancer drug prices are affecting the care of patients with
cancer and our health care system," says lead author Dr.
Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic. "The
average gross household income in the U.S. is about $52,000
per year. For an insured patient with cancer who needs a drug
that costs $120,000 per year, the out-of-pocket expenses could
be as much as $25,000 to $30,000 — more than half their
average household income."
group cites a 2015 study by D.H. Howard and colleagues,
published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, which found
that cancer drug prices have risen by an average of $8,500 per
year over the past 15 years.
you consider that cancer will affect 1 in 3 individuals over
their lifetime, and [with] recent trends in insurance coverage
[that] put a heavy financial burden on patients with
out-of-pocket expenses, you quickly see that the situation is
not sustainable," Dr. Tefferi, says. "It's time for
patients and their physicians to call for change."
group says these actions would improve the situation and allow
market forces to work better.
Create a post-U.S. Food and Drug Administration drug approval
review mechanism to propose a fair price for new treatments
that is based on the value to patients and heath care.
Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Allow the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute,
created through the Affordable Care Act, to evaluate the
benefits of new treatments and similar organizations to
include drug prices in their assessments of the treatment
Allow importation of cancer drugs across borders for personal
use. (For example, prices in Canada are about half of prices
in the U.S.)
legislation to prevent drug companies from delaying access to
generic drugs (pay for delay).
Reform the patent system to make it more difficult to prolong
product exclusivity unnecessarily (patent "evergreening")
Encourage organizations that represent cancer specialists and
patients (e.g., American Society of Clinical Oncology,
American Society of Hematology, American Association for
Cancer Research, American Cancer Society, National
Comprehensive Cancer Network to consider the overall value of
drugs and treatments in formulating treatment guidelines.
group also supports the patient-based, grass-roots movement on
change.org that advocates against high cancer drug prices with
the goal of drawing the attention of pharmaceutical companies
and elected representatives to this issue. The authors write,
"with proper support of these grass-roots efforts and
proper use of that support downstream, it should be possible
to focus the attention of pharmaceutical companies on this
problem and to encourage our elected representatives to more
effectively advocate for the interests of their most important
constituents among the stakeholders in cancer — American