Volume 1, Issue 3
Reasons and solutions for high cost of cancer drugs
A virtual monopoly held by some drug manufacturers in part because of the way treatment protocols work is among the reasons cancer drugs cost so much in the United States, according to a commentary by two Mayo Clinic Cancer Center physicians in the October issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Value-based pricing is one potential solution, they wrote.
"Cancer care is not representative of a free-market system, and the traditional checks and balances that make the free-market system work so efficiently in all other areas are absent when it comes to most cancer treatment," wrote authors Mustaqeem A. Siddiqui, MBBS, an oncologist, and S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a hematologist.
For example, when it comes to over-the-counter painkillers or antibiotics, a physician or patient can choose from multiple drugs. But cancer drugs are administered to patients sequentially or in combination, creating a virtual monopoly for each drug. This is one of the principal reasons for the high cost of cancer therapy.
Other factors include the expense of drug development; the high price that patients and insurers are willing to pay for even modest improvement in outcomes; and a lack of regulations, such as a cost-effectiveness analysis to account for economic and value-based considerations in the drug-approval and pricing process, the physicians wrote.
Solutions the authors recommend include:
Watch a video of Dr. Rajkumar discussing this study.
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