Cancer’s Shocking Price Tag

Cancer’s Shocking Price Tag post image

Aside from the trauma and stress of getting a diagnosis of cancer, is the shock of the accompanying price tag. So much so, that a group of doctors wrote a forum article published online April 25 in the journal, Blood addressing this issue. This clearly highlights the fact that cancer is a Big Business — and we know how Big Business protects itself.

There are Some Honest Cancer Experts

In this forum article, the group of 120 cancer experts from around the world discuss the high cost of leukemia drugs, but emphasize that their concerns extend to many other types of cancer drugs.

In the United States, about 10% of patients fail to take prescribed drugs, mainly because of cost. According to the group,

This is reducing their chances of survival. Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them.

The group intends to start a dialogue by organizing regular meetings with all parties concerned in order to address the reasons for high cancer drug prices and offer solutions to reduce them.

This is clearly a group of doctors that believe in the treatments they offer and are trying to make that treatment accessible to people who need it.

The corresponding author for the group is Hagop Kantarjian MD, from the Department of Leukemia at the University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center in Houston.

Cost of Cancer Drugs Skyrocketing

Cancer drug prices have almost doubled over the past decade, from an average of $5000 per month to $10,000 per month.

Eleven of the 12 drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year for various cancer indications were priced above $100,000 per year, the experts note.

For example, the an original drug for leukemia, imatinib (Gleevec, Novartis), which was launched in 2001 at a price of $30,000 per year, has had a huge price hike; in 2012, it cost $92,000 per year.According to the report,

This is despite the fact that all the research costs for imatinib were accounted for in the original price, the experts points out, and that since its launch, the drug has been approved for other indications, so the number of patients taking the drug has increased dramatically. There have been numerous appeals by patients and advocates to lower the price of imatinib, but to no avail.

For a chronic leukemia patient taking a drug of this kind, the 20% copay amounts to around $20,000 to 30,000 per year (about a quarter to a third of an average household budget)!

This is resulting in financial ruin for some patients; medical illness and drug prices are the single-most frequent cause of personal bankruptcy, the group notes.

Billion Dollars for Developing New Drug is Myth

Dr. Kantarjian said,

These high prices were shocking… especially because I was intimately involved in the development of all 3 of these drugs, and I know that the cost of development of these drugs was not as high as industry claims they are… The widely quoted estimate of $1 billion for developing a new drug, taking into account the prototypes that fail on the way and infrastructure and salaries, is a myth… The true cost is only about 10% of that — around $100 million.

Additionally, take a look at this chart to see the cost of cancer drugs in the United States compared to other countries. IT is shocking to see that here in the US, we pay much much more for the same drugs.

Cancer is Another Big Business

With profit potentials from these newly developed drugs, and old ones that are allowed to have the price raised exponentially, it’s clear that a cure will not be found any time soon. The War on Cancer has been waged for the last 35 years and is clearly, so profitable, that it will go on indefinitely.

As with all Big Business, the average person loses and the few on top win, with the help of the conventional medical establishment and the government.

In, fact, this study recently published in the journal Health Affairs, found that cancer patients were 2.6 times more likely to declare bancruptcy than those without cancer.

If You Are Confronted With Cancer

Getting the correct diagnosis is of the utmost importance and conventional medicine is pretty good at that. Getting all your options for conventional treatment is also important. If you are interested in alternative treatments for your particular cancer you might start here:

Of course there are some questionable procedures out there so I would be VERY careful about what you decide to do.

Some alternative treatments actually become the norm after several years. For instance, in the 1980’s my father had prostate cancer. He went to Seattle to a doctor who was the only one doing the radioactive seeding, instead of having radical surgery or radiation to the entire area. This was very successful for my father and saved him having other organs irradiated. At the time it was still experimental, but now, it is a common treatment option for that type of cancer.

Prevent Cancer By Eating Real Food

Of course the best thing to do is to eliminate all the toxic and dangerous additives, GMO’s, pesticides, and hormone disruptors from your diet. Eat food that can go bad, but eat it before it does.

Do you know anyone who had cancer and sought out alternative treatments? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Leave a Comment

  • JCleary July 17, 2013, 6:43 am

    It is as we all believe, cancer is big business, particularly here in the US.

    I am unable to view the chart showing the drug cost to Americans vs other countries the author referred to. It seems we have to ‘sign up’ to access the information.

  • Paula July 24, 2013, 12:06 am

    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for sharing at Healthy2Day Wednesdays. Your post was featured and will be shared on FB, Twitter, and Pinterest!

  • Tiffany @ July 24, 2013, 5:45 pm

    I don’t know of anyone personally who has sought out alternative cancer treatment methods, but my husband and I are completely on board with them. He completed a 10 day water fast earlier this year and when he was done, said that if he ever had cancer, that would be the first thing he’d do, followed by Dr. Gerson’s diet recommendations. We watched both hers and Burzynski’s ‘s documentaries on Netflix and not only enjoyed them, but we are now convinced at the “big business” fighting cancer has become. This is partially why we now are hyper-conscious of the food we eat and the food that we feed our children. We don’t want our kids to grow up and suffer disease and death due to our poor nutrition habits as parents.

  • Karen July 30, 2013, 8:05 am

    I’m now a Mom of a 9 year old who has had brain cancer. I’ve leaned towards alternative medicine for years, so once we heard the horrific diagnosis and the tumor was out of her head, we started our research and settled on a combination of Gerson therapy and Rife therapy with Dr. Kevin Conners in Vadnais Heights MN. Sarah (my 9 year old) was cancer free 2 months later as our Oncologists turned us into child protection. When they started the forced chemotherapy, she was already cancer free. This still makes my head spin, treatments that cause hearing loss, infertility and future cancers are forced onto children against the wishes of the parents even when the alternative treatments work. We had a judge tell us more than once that he would order our child removed from us if we didn’t show up for chemo. 13 months of chemo. We finished in March of 2013 and we are starting to tackle the side effects now, which honestly are few but only because of the $50,000 we spent on alternative treatments to get her through the chemo. She has a thyroid condition called hashimoto’s now and she has psoraisis on her ears but they say it can take 2.5 years to rebuild your immune system after chemo.

    They don’t want to admit there are other cures for cancer. They want their big salaries to continue and what better guaranteed income stream than off of children who cannot choose a healthier option.

    • Jill July 31, 2013, 9:03 pm

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you so much for sharing what had to be a horrendous experience. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope your child is now healthy and happy. It is so frightening and utterly disgusting that parents don’t have the right to choose what they think is right for their child in the face of a life threatening illness. You are very very brave to try the alternatives. I’m glad they helped.

  • Alice September 1, 2013, 6:44 pm

    Hi there,

    Are the recipes low in oxalate and low in salicylate?


  • Hector September 21, 2014, 7:38 am

    Great article. I am gong through some of these issues as well..

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