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Cancer Doctors Protest 'Astronomical' Drug Costs

usa pharmaceutical companies fda approval myelogenous leukemia american society of hematology

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#1 Hum

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:09

With some new, potentially lifesaving cancer drugs costing up to $138,000 a year, about 120 leading cancer specialists have joined forces in an unusual protest aimed at getting pharmaceutical companies to cut prices.

Charging high prices for drugs cancer patients need to survive is like “profiteering” from a natural disaster by jacking up prices for food and other necessities, leading cancer doctors and researchers from around the world contend in a new paper published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Of 12 new cancer drugs that received FDA approval last year, 11 of them cost in excess of $100,000 a year—prices that the specialists attack as “astronomical,” “unsustainable,” and maybe even immoral. What’s more, only three of these drugs were found to improve patient survival rates and of these, two only increased it by less than two months, according to the Washington Post.

“Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients,” say the specialists who wrote the paper, who specialize in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but emphasize that sky-high drug costs affect patients with many types of cancer.

“Medical illness and drug prices are the single most frequent cause of personal bankruptcy” in the US, according to the specialists, where patients’ copayments on drug prices average 20 percent of the total cost of the drug. That means that cancer patients often face having to shell out $20,000 to $30,000 a year, simply to stay alive. :huh:

The specialists also note that astronomical drug prices may be the single most common reason why patients stop taking lifesaving drugs. This is particularly true for those with CML, which requires daily treatment for long-term survival.

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#2 fusi0n

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:21

It is really sad for medicine to cost this much.. Hospitals have been known to charge $400 for a single ibuprofen..

With that said.. people also don't realize how much goes into finding new cures.. The people dedicated 5-15 years of their life to find new medicine should be rewarded. Saying that, the people finding cures are not doing it for the money. Also, the people doing the research are having to use tools that cost millions of dollars to use, FDA testing, ect.. a lot goes in to medicine.. Hopefully soon there will be a easier way to keep the cost of medicine down.

#3 Deleted Bye

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:28

i have always been curious (aside from what Google tells you in your search) on how prices are initially set for big pharm. I do understand that the initial cost is to cover developmental cost, but, why should it be front loaded? Sure after the cost is recouped, they release the patent to generic name brand companies but still. Why not operate like other service businesses and make your money over the course of continued sales. If it was a one pill/one shot success then i can see the business model of it though. I am sure there are reasons that I have no clue about, but front ended funding/sales like this would seem to make something NOT take off.

#4 fusi0n

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:44

i have always been curious (aside from what Google tells you in your search) on how prices are initially set for big pharm. I do understand that the initial cost is to cover developmental cost, but, why should it be front loaded? Sure after the cost is recouped, they release the patent to generic name brand companies but still. Why not operate like other service businesses and make your money over the course of continued sales. If it was a one pill/one shot success then i can see the business model of it though. I am sure there are reasons that I have no clue about, but front ended funding/sales like this would seem to make something NOT take off.


Those cost are being front loaded because the only people they are marketing it too are sick people.. It is a messy system.. You can get Federal funding for research, but then you have to abide their rules.. Not many breakthroughs come from something that is being restricted. If hospitals paid more most of the medicine, they would go broke.. fast.. Yeah, they can afford it.. but big hospitals spend MEGA MILLIONS on new tools that they need to cure other patients.

Yeah, I feel once the money has been recovered it should be sold to generics... but is that really fair?? If you spend many many years inventing something.. and once that money has been made back that went into your research.. you just sell it off?

I mean.. it is a double edge sword.. I with there was a better way.

#5 OP Hum

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:50

It is really sad for medicine to cost this much.. Hospitals have been known to charge $400 for a single ibuprofen..

With that said.. people also don't realize how much goes into finding new cures.


Sadly, many cures have been right there, for many decades ...

#6 n_K

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 22:55

Drugs are expensive because the companies want to make huge profits, there is no other reason.
'it takes lots of time effort and research to find cures and blah blah blah blah blah' is complete and utter garbage.

#7 ramesees

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:10

Yeah why make £50 million when you can make £500 million.

This is the main reason why we will never see diseases cured completely - there will be no opportunity to make money from the medicines and other treatments.
And we cant have the situation where "ordinary" folks aren't dependant on big pharma any more now can we ?

#8 cleverclogs

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:17

Drug companies solely exist to make money. They DO spend a helluvalot on R&D and it does take an epic amount of time to get a drug through from discovery to shelf, and for ever one that gets all the way to commercialisation, there'll be countless numbers that fail on the way, so you've got to pay for those too.
Next, if they were to license out the drug straight away to generics, you've got price-wars and competition going on between different companies, meaning the inventor won't be able to make as much money.
IF the companies didn't exist, nor would a lot of drugs. Would the public really want to pay their taxes for all the researchers that would spend time on those failed drugs that never get to the shelf? They already don't, it's why funding keeps getting cut. But perhaps everyone would wake up and realise that science is important, and public-funded science is the most important, so that information is available 'for the people'.
Thanks for reading
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#9 PGHammer

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:17

Drugs are expensive because the companies want to make huge profits, there is no other reason.
'it takes lots of time effort and research to find cures and blah blah blah blah blah' is complete and utter garbage.


Then you have absolutely zero idea of merely the costs in terms of regulation that goes into ANY drug - even OTC stuff.

By OTC stuff, I'm referring to mouthwashes, toothpastes, even deodorants and anti-perspirants - ALL of which come under the Pure Drug Act section of the Pure Food and Drug Act, and therefore under government (read FDA) scrutineering.

By the by, most of Big Pharma consists of public companies (especially GlaxoSmithKline); therefore, the information is public record. Take a look at their annual reports.

Cancer drugs are like orphan drugs - small markets, and therefore costly. Look at the market for anti-hypertensive/anti-stroke medicines - far larger by comparison.

If you knew what the actual costs were (and as I pointed out, for the vast majority of Big Pill, it's public record), you would likely sing a different tune.

#10 n_K

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:32

By the by, most of Big Pharma consists of public companies (especially GlaxoSmithKline); therefore, the information is public record. Take a look at their annual reports.

Cancer drugs are like orphan drugs - small markets, and therefore costly. Look at the market for anti-hypertensive/anti-stroke medicines - far larger by comparison.

If you knew what the actual costs were (and as I pointed out, for the vast majority of Big Pill, it's public record), you would likely sing a different tune.

Yes, public companies not state companies. I know a lot about GSK as they've got a HQ situated here, they didn't bother to contain the swine flu when they were working on it and a bunch of their maintainence workers got ill from it. Oh, didn't hear about that? Then there's the case of the swine flu vaccine GSK made themselves - contaminated with ALUMINIUM - and it's caused a widespread outbreak of narcolepsy, of course GSK are denying it's anything to do with them but unlike the USA the UK actually has a worthwhile health investigation unit that is investigating and holding GSK accountable.
Talking of GSK and botched/******** research, let's go back to seroxat - the medication GSK released for depression that... What was that? It CAUSED people to put on weight and feel suicidal and didn't actually work at all? Oh yes, that's seroxat that GSK released and faked the research on.
Now let's go into research I've been personally involved in with 2 hospitals - the first is a small team that was paid for and organised by a doctor at the hospital out of his own money, I had the very luck experience of working with them for a week, they didn't have the best equipment and didn't get the best pay but they enjoyed their job and the goal was to research into how to cure an autoimmune condition (I'm not at liberty to explain more) and any useful research they found was released for free and they didn't profit from it, that's an example of a good research department.
The other hospital is working on not a cure for the said problem but an administration system for it, the doctors there created some things for it and are testing it with as many people as they can, once again not well paid but once the research is completed, it will be sold to a large pharma. company for a small profit I guess, and then that company will greatly inflate the price and sell it back to the NHS which always happens, making a remarkable huge profit.

You obviously don't know much about the pharma. industry, feel free to read the above though and comment when you've experienced things or dealt with them.

Oh and cancer drugs not large? More than half of people will get cancer in their lifetime, now obviously that's nothing compared to the number of people and times each person will get the common cold, but that's a LOT of people.

#11 adrynalyne

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:46

My uncle has a prescription that costs $14,000 a bottle (1 month supply) if you don't have insurance.

#12 cleverclogs

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:55

Then there's the case of the swine flu vaccine GSK made themselves - contaminated with ALUMINIUM - and it's caused a widespread outbreak of narcolepsy, of course GSK are denying it's anything to do with them but unlike the USA the UK actually has a worthwhile health investigation unit that is investigating and holding GSK accountable.


Get your facts straight, please. It's not contaminated with aluminium, they use aluminium salts as an adjuvant. It is not going to affect the body in adverse ways and it CERTAINLY didn't cause narcolepsy.

#13 n_K

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:59

Get your facts straight, please. It's not contaminated with aluminium, they use aluminium salts as an adjuvant. It is not going to affect the body in adverse ways and it CERTAINLY didn't cause narcolepsy.

http://biotech.about.com/b/2013/01/22/swine-flu-vaccine-link-to-narcolepsy-concerns-european-authorities.htm
Oh I'm sorry did you not think/read before posting?
Aluminium causes dementia among other things.

#14 Defcon

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 23:59

Big Pharma is organized crime licensed by the government, plain and simple. There are a number of books and articles which expose their practices. e.g. claiming high costs of R&D when in fact most of the research is done by public universities, paid for by our taxes, whereas the majority of a pharma companies budget is spent on marketing and industry sponsored 'trials'. The FDA board consists of ex-pharma execs and FDA doesn't have any budget to independently test drugs, nor is it in the best interest of their clients (pharma, not us) to do so.

So the myth that 'America has the best health care' lives on while people get sicker and the rich companies get richer.

#15 cleverclogs

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 00:02

And before you go off on me about my above comments. Right now my Dad's having chemo and we can barely afford the treatments. And yet I understand it's a company that wants to make money because we STILL live in a world bend on capitalization.
So, don't blame the companies that make this stuff. Go and blame society and then go and do something about it.

http://biotech.about...authorities.htm
Oh I'm sorry did you not think/read before posting?
Aluminium causes dementia among other things.

Yes, aluminium by itself causes Alzheimer's, dementia etc. Christ do you not think about what you stick on arm pits?
What you've done here is linked the fact that some vaccines contain an adjuvant that will be an aluminium hydroxide or other 'salt', called it 'contamination' and then gone and linked it with it causing narcolepsy.

Please, let's keep to the facts and not introduce personal bias and agenda, which it seems you have.

And if you read that article, you'll see the adjuvant was a form of Vitamin E and a natural organic compound Squalene.
The aluminium salts used as an adjuvant have been used for a VERY long time - hence their use and acceptance in USA for some vaccines.