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Exorbitant Drug Prices Put Quality Of Life And Quality Of Care At Risk

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on December 8, 2014

The increasing cost of drugs is creating a “financially toxic” cycle that harms the quality of life and quality of care of cancer patients and survivors, according to experts who spoke at the American Society of Hematology’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

“Rising drug costs can influence patient adherence, quality of life, and overall health–an endless loop,” they explained, the American Journal of Managed Care reported.

Patients caught in that endless loop and burdened by the financial and mental stress of rising cancer treatment costs often abandon or skip their medications, jeopardizing their health and treatment.

Oncologist S. Yousuf Zafar, M.D., of Duke University cited research that found patients diagnosed with cancer are 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people without cancer, as well as studies showing cancer patients at risk for cost-related medication nonadherence.

And Hagop M. Kantarjian, M.D., a professor at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, highlighted that while cancer drug prices have increased by 10-fold in just as many years,  the average household income has fallen by 8 percent, the AJMC noted.

Kantarjian called out the pharmaceutical industry for overestimating how much it costs to develop a drug, saying, “The billion dollar price tag per drug does not account for 50 percent tax subsidy that they avail, and it’s the mean cost not median.”

The panelists shed light on a major challenge – that pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers are using monopolies to charge sky’s-the-limit pricing for lifesaving drugs.