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Cost of cancer drugs double in a decade

Published time: May 07, 2014 20:39
Reuters/Mike Brown

Reuters/Mike Brown

Nearly $100 billion was spent around the world last year on cancer medicines, according to a new report, and the costs of life-saving drugs for consumers have doubled in just a decade to $10,000 a month.

In all, $91 billion was spent last year, researchers at the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics write in a new report, up from $71 billion in 2008. Between 2004 and 2014, the study found, cancer drugs went from costing $37 billion to more than double that.

With regards to the US, Americans paid $37.2 billion for oncology treatments in 2013, the study found — the same amount the whole world was spending a decade earlier. Together, Americans spent $329.2 billion last year on medication.

“We'll cross (the $100 billion) threshold in the next year or so," Murray Aitken, the institute's executive director, told the Associated Press this week with regards to the cost of oncology treatment. By then, the AP added, cancer medicine would consist of around 10 percent of all that’s spent globally on prescription drugs.

As prices soar, however, researchers say so does the number of cancer patients willing to forego costly treatment.

"The evidence of patients stopping their therapy due to high out-of-pocket costs is alarming," Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute, told CBS MoneyWatch. "Fortunately there are patient assistance programs and other mechanisms available to help patients with this issue."

In an official statement, Aitken said that even recent attempts to offset those costs have yet to be proved successful.

“Following several years of decline, 2013 was striking for the increased use by patients of all parts of the US healthcare system – even in advance of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “Growth in medicine spending remains at historically low levels despite a significant uptick last year, and continues to contribute to the bending of the healthcare cost curve.”

But abroad, the costs of cancer drugs have yet to surge as high as they have stateside. In Europe, for example, the report found that national discounts offered by governments there have allowed cancer drugs to cost in some cases 40 percent less than in the US.

According to the study — aptly titled “Cancer Drug Innovation Surges as Cost Growth Moderates” — hospitals have been charging an average of 189 percent more than private practices in order to provide oncology treatments.

The most expensive drug named in the report — a skin cancer treatment called Yervoy — now costs around $117,648 for a single course of treatment, the study found.

Comments (6)


Tessa 08.05.2014 16:48

The goal of big pharma is to bleed you dry of all resources before you ultimately die from their "treatments&quo t;. No surprise that people have decided to die with some dignity and leave resources for the family they leave behind.


Alan Keen 07.05.2014 22:38

Anyone could cure their own cancer with a little understanding of how they got sick in the first place. End ALL the junk food on the market, eat only organic and non-GMO foods would save more lives than any treatment by any so-called doctor. For your bodies sake remember "First do no harm" to yourself.


Hamilton Melanie 07.05.2014 21:16

Daniel R Thompson 07.05.2014 21:10

They already have a cure for cancer, but won't say so. It would destroy their profits for treatment for over priced meds.


They may not want to make it public, but I will: Google Run From The Cure and watch the full length video on how marijuana oil shrinks cancer tumours and gives people back their health.

The saddest case in recent times was that of Cash Hyde. His body was so ravaged from the poisonous cancer drugs the marijuana oil couldn't help him. Broke my heart.

Prescripti on drugs = HUGE profits for pharmaceutical corporations!

View all comments (6)
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