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article imageCancer drug prices 'could put patients at risk'

By Tim Sandle     May 9, 2013 in Health
A group of medics have warned that the inflated prices charged by pharmaceutical firms for drugs to treat cancer are threatening patients' lives.
The warning comes from an article published in the journal Blood. In the article, the authors indicate that eleven out of the twelve drugs sanctioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cost over $100,000 for each patient annually. Furthermore, existing drugs that have proved their effectiveness have surged up to three times in price.
One example, the New York Times notes, is with the drug Glivec (manufactured by the company Novartis). Glivec is one of the most well-known and successful drugs in treating chronic myeloid leukemia, giving patients an almost normal life expectancy, when only ten years ago they would survive a few years.
However, the cost of Glivec has increased with the price per patient per year rising in the U.S. from $30,000 to $92,000.
The specialists state in the article that “Grateful patients may have become the financial victims of the treatment success, having to pay the high price annually to stay alive.”
According to the Independent, they go on to state: “What determines a morally justifiable ‘just price’ for a cancer drug? A reasonable drug price should maintain healthy pharmaceutical industry profits without being viewed as ‘profiteering’. This term [profiteering] may apply to the trend of high drug prices where a life threatening medical condition is the disaster.”
In response to the specific criticism about Glivec, Novartis stated: “We recognize that sustainability of health care systems is a complex topic and we welcome the opportunity to be part of the dialogue. Our critical role, as one of many parties working towards improving cancer care, is to discover and develop innovative treatments.”
The medics state that advocating lower pharmaceutical prices is essential to save the lives of patients' who cannot afford them.
More about Cancer, Drugs, Drug prices, Big pharma
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