The industry that makes cancer drugs, including well known companies such as Novartis and Pfizer, typically sell the public on the idea that the costs and risks of researching, developing, and bringing a new cancer drug to market justify the accompanying (and sometimes prohibitive) price tag. Dr. Peter Bach, the Director for the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, posits that the validity of this argument has lost credibility and has more to do with what the market will bear than what the industry actually spends on development.
Dr. Bach uses the example of two cancer drugs, Xalkori and Zykadia, which target the same type of lung cancer. Xalkori is produced by Pfizer and was introduced in 2011, while Zykadia, produced by Novartis, came to market in 2014. Despite the fact that Pfizer had much more risk in bringing Xalkori to market than Pfizer did with Zykadia, by virtue of being the first drug of its type to come available, Zykadia costs $1700 more per month than the older, more established drug it imitates. Dr. Bach believes that discrepancy correlates with the cancer drug market in 2014 tolerating higher prices than it did in 2011. Further, today’s prices are more than double what the market would bear a decade ago. The pricing for cancer drugs, as well as the drugs for many other diseases, no longer reflects reality, logic, or how a true market should perform.
Read the full article on Forbes, “Cancer: Unpronounceable Drugs, Incomprehensible Prices”
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