Health Editor’s Note:  Okay, you or a family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer.  That is the first hit of many more to come.  Drugs used to kill your cancer will cost you, your insurance company, etc. mucho dollars. For instance Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta) may be ordered to boost your white blood count (but probably only if your insurance will pay for it). This drug stimulates your bone marrow to produce more neutrophils to make up for those that are killed by the chemo.  Chemotherapy kills all fast growing cells, not just cancer cells which also divide rapidly, so rapidly that they overcome surrounding tissues and that is why cancer can kill. Lymphocytes or white blood cells (WBCs) are the blood cells that fight infections. Low WBC count (neutropenia) will make you very susceptible to any type of infection and an infection that your body cannot fight off will kill you. Being hospitalized for treatment of neutropenia and subsequent infections, and you will be hospitalized is very costly.

From the list of chemotherapy drugs below I will take one to show you the cost.  One 6 mg Neulasta injection will cost between $5,000 to $7000, depending on the supplier. You should be given an injection 24 hours after a high-dose chemotherapy treatment (and you will have several depending on the cancer being treated) and the next dose will come after your next chemo treatment which will follow but not before 14 days. You can see how quickly the cost adds up.

Even the cheaper drug, Neupogen, which also stimulates the bone marrow to produce neutrophils, costs $300 to $350 per injection.  Not all insurance policies will cover the cost of this medication. So, not only is the medication so expensive but your health insurance company may decide that it is not “necessary” for you to have this medication in your fight with cancer survival. I really hate that….a company takes your money for health insurance but can limit your ability to fight cancer because, well they have to pay out money and that means they are not making money.  

If the cost of these medically necessary drugs were cheaper, insurance companies would be inclined to pay for them, thus more people would be adequately treated and have a real chance to survive the fight with cancer. Until the cost of chemotherapy drugs drops to acceptable/affordable levels people will continue to die from cancer just for the sad reason that they cannot afford the treatment to fight it. They are kept from getting curative medical care. Again, Shame on big pharma. They have to stop putting a unattainable price on life….Carol  

 

Some agents continued to make billions after market exclusivity

By Ian Ingram, Deputy Managing Editor, MedPage Today

Blame for the hefty price tags on cancer therapies is often pinned on research and development (R&D), but on average pharmaceutical companies made over 10 times what these agents cost to develop, a new analysis found.

For the 99 FDA-approved oncology drugs with available sales data, these agents generated a median cumulative revenue of $14.50 for every $1 spent on R&D through the end of 2017, reported Kiu Tay-Teo, PhD, and colleagues from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.

“This study has shown that cancer drugs, through their high prices, have generated substantial financial returns for the originator companies,” the authors wrote in JAMA Network Open. “Excessive returns on investment may distort R&D investment and stifle future clinically meaningful innovation, with evidence of such a trend having already emerged in the R&D of cancer drugs.”


One example of this trend possibly over-incentivizing investment in cancer therapies is the 4,006 oncology trials in 2017, which made up roughly half of all pharma trials and outnumbered cardiovascular disease trials by about a factor of 10 (n=446). Costs for these trials are estimated at $4.6 million for each phase I trial, $11.5 million for phase II, and $22.8 million for each phase III trial.

Tay-Teo and co-authors argued that along with restricting patients’ access to these drugs, high prices have compromised the sustainability of health systems across the world and said actions must be taken to correct this “unsustainable trend.”

Risk-adjusted R&D estimates for cancer drugs range from $219 million to $2.82 billion (median $794 million), the researchers noted, which includes not only the costs of approved agents themselves but also that of drugs that failed in early trials and never came to market.

Even when assuming the $2.82 billion upper threshold for an approved agent’s R&D, the revenue-to-cost ratio was even greater for some blockbuster agents:

  • Imatinib (Gleevec): $22.60
  • Pegfilgrastim (Neulasta): $22.60
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin): $29.50
  • Trastuzumab (Herceptin): $31.20
  • Rituximab (Rituxan): $33.20

 

And a number of biologics continued to be profitable and yield billion-dollar returns even after their protected period of market exclusivity expired. However, with a recent push by the FDA, biosimilars have now started to hit the market in the U.S., with biosimilars trastuzumabrituximab, and bevacizumab all getting approval for a number of different cancer types.

“We hope the entry of biosimilars would bring greater competition and hence reduction of prices to a level that is affordable to healthcare systems and patients,” Tay-Teo told MedPage Today.

He pointed to a recent WHO report on cancer drug pricing that found pharmaceutical companies’ pricing strategies were largely “based on commercial goals” rather than the clinical value of a given agent.

The study did not examine the effects of multiple indications for a given agent on drug pricing, but Tay-Teo said that “multi-indication pricing” — wherein manufacturers and government regulatory agencies agree on pricing for different indications of use — has been used in some countries such as Sweden and Italy.

 

For their study, the researchers looked at all 156 oncology drugs approved by the FDA since 1989, identifying the 99 drugs where sales data were available for at least half the years since coming to market. They estimated that it took a median of 5 years (range 2-10) for companies to recover the maximum R&D costs of $2.82 billion.

A number of limitations to the study were cited by the authors, including that some drugs had public sector money as part of their R&D and sales data were based on companies’ annual reports, which might have aggregated revenues for “drugs with lower returns.” Lastly, sales data were total revenues rather than actual company profits (sales minus expenses), but they added that oncology drug profits are likely to be “supernormal.”

The authors are all on staff at the World Health Organization. Tay-Teo disclosed that he was formerly an employee of Deloitte Access Economics in Australia.


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10 COMMENTS

  1. I was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago; my doctor said that I have less than 6 months to live. But I refused to be a victim of the stupidities of western medicine. I went to see a fully qualified doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Today, I lead a fully productive life. I never missed a step in my career as a software engineer. This goes to show the superiority of TCM over that of voodoo western medicine. Moreover, TCM only uses plants, never harming animals.

    • TCM DOES harm animals, in fact, it is a major factor in the near extinction of several species, notably the rhino which has been hunted almost to extinction for it’s horn, which is used in TCM. Animal rights is an alien concept in China, they treat animals appallingly.

  2. Very simply: I survived stage three metastasized colon cancer four years ago. Had I listened to my “medical Team”, I would be wearing a colostomy bag today, that is, if I were still alive. I used cannabis oil CBD with THC. THC is the compound in cannabis oil that kills the cancer cells. One must have CBD OIL with THC to kill the cancer cell. I Wrote a book about cannabis oil and its miraculous cure for not just cancer but a myriad of ailments. The book is titled, CANNABIS OIL CURED MY CANCER by john Gabriel. It is available in EBOOK and Paperback on Amazon Kindle. Really, you can cure this demon by yourself. Give it a try. There are many testimonials on youtube as to its wondrous healing powers. No one has to suffer. Investigate! Investigate! As Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet said, “In nature there is a cure for every ailment known to man. Even if you have had radiation and chemo poisoning cannabis oil can and will go to work for you. Remember, it is never to late to use cannabis oil in curing cancer. There are thousands of testimonials to remarkable recoveries of people with stage 4 cancer , and with just some days to weeks to live. You are just a money making tool to Big Pharma. That’s it! It is a machine with no conscience. God bless you— good luck!

  3. Until the 1990s, when industrial hemp with less than 0.5% THC was developed, cannabis and hemp were the same thing in essence. The species is Cannabis Sativa and both drug and fibre types were the exact same genetics, the difference was in how it was grown. Hemp is harvested early, before the plant has reached full maturity, whereas cannabis for smoking is harvested late, after the plant has completed it’s flowering cycle. The THC and other active components develop during the flowering cycle and do not reach maximum levels until flowering has completed and the plant is about to die.

  4. Every aspect of so called “cancer treatment” in the U.S. is controlled by the powerful and corrupting pharmaceutical companies. Just like whores in Congress are bribed and/or threatened by criminals in Israel, the FDA and other agencies are similarly bought and paid for too. Even the billion dollar American Cancer Society has obstructed every non toxic cancer treatment, mistreatment would be a more appropriate description. All approved cancer treatments are life threatening. So it might be a blessing in disguise to not have the money to pay for them because most are worthless, expensive junk anyway. The statistics are grim after squandering upwards of $1 trillion, the cancer generals can’t even tell you what cancer is, let alone how to cure and prevent it in the human body. About one person every minute dies either from cancer, treatment or both, usually treatment, but falsely reported as from cancer. Even doctors routinely speculate and lie that a patient died of cancer without proof. After all they have a conflict of interest and don’t want to admit their unscientific efforts caused the death of a patient. The only medical doctor to admit he was responsible for the death of a patient was the late Max Gerson, M.D. in his book “A Cancer Therapy Results of 50 cases”, about 1958. The cancer generals are prejudiced bigots who don’t know what they are doing but get away with crimes against humanity year in and year out in America where FAILURE is rewarded. ..

    • If an unwitting patient dies while under cancer “treatment” the response from these worthless jerks will be, “sorry, we did our best”. The unwitting patients and their loved ones don’t know the difference anyway. All of them must be fired pronto and start over. But just like the endless wars of the four star generals, nothing ever really changes in America does it? The so called “War on Cancer” is the biggest scam of our time and the biggest medical failure of our time. The inmates have truly taken over the asylum. Numerous books by top authorities, some cited in my earlier posts, prove this without any doubt.

  5. The mention of the word cancer today to patients has become a terrifying experience for many patients and their loved ones. The reasons for this are multi faceted and cannot be adequately addressed even in a full article let alone a comment. There is plenty of blame to be shared for the dismal failure of the so called “war on cancer” initiated by President Nixon in about 1971. The problem is so desperate that many patients almost need to become experts in cancer treatment themselves, because the advice they receive from the so called “professionals” is so unreliable. Three successive volumes by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D., about 500 pages each, with about 500 references, “The Cancer Syndrome”, 1980, followed by “The Cancer Industry”, 1989 and another up date in 1996. The book by the late Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., “The Politics of Cancer Revisited”, 1998, about 800 pages with 1200 references. These are just for starters. The late Professor John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., top researcher at UC Berkeley also wrote a number of books on this subject. He was the world authority on radiation and public health. It is bad enough to hear a doctor say the word cancer to you or your loved one, let alone having to contemplate reading all of the above and more! Mammography is a billion dollar industry. Many safer alternatives are just as good or better but most doctors cling to this scam. Only events with zero probability can’t happen. All others with non zero probability, however small

    • All others with non zero probability, however small, can happen no matter what you doctor claims to the contrary. There is a non zero chance that you will initiate cancer with a single mammogram! Yes it is small but unlikely events happen every day. People win the lottery every day don’t they? All this and more is aside from the problem that the medical orthodoxy has been corruptly going down the wrong track in cancer causation and fundamental research which has been corruptly ignored by them. They have criminally ignored the seminal discoveries of the genius in Germany Otto H. Warburg, M.D., Ph.D. who died in 1970 about the same year as the beginning of the War on Cancer. The orthodoxy claims cancer is a different disease for every organ in the body or over 100 different diseases! Even if one doesn’t know much about this subject this claim makes no sense. On the other hand Warburg discovered, with experiments and facts, that cancer is ONE disease; oxygen deficiency to living cells for a relatively long period of time. All cancer is is a reversion back to the situation on Earth BEFORE oxygen appeared. All fully developed cancer cells run primarily on anerobic glycolysis or fermentation just like the lowest forms of life on Earth before the appearance of Oxygen! It is that simple conceptually. But the cancer generals have foolishly and criminally disregarded these facts for reasons too long to discuss here. All this and much much more are why all this can be

    • . All this and much much more are why all this can be described as “The cancer treatment nightmare problem”! Warburg’s work is discussed in a great book, “The Hidden Story of Cancer” by Brian Peskin, E.E. and Amid Habib, M.D., Pinnacle Press, Houston, 2006-2010. Your body has over 100 trillion cells. Getting adequate oxygen to each one constantly is a big, big job. If adequate oxygen is not provided, this leads to cancer as the genius in Germany proved with experiments and facts, not genetic speculations. Otto H. Warburg, M.D., Ph.D. was considered the greatest biochemist of the 20th Century. He was the best of the best. He was in charge of his own laboratory as part of the old German system which contributed so much to civilization. His Father Emil Warburg held the Chair of Physics at Berlin. He was the best of the best too.

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