Cancer drug prices are up by 600 percent compared to similar drugs introduced a decade and a half ago. This raises questions as to what really drives increases in cancer medication costs.

Many speculations may arise from the issue but no one has ever come up to definitively identify why oral cancer drugs persist to increase in cost. However, some analysts have things in mind, which they think may contribute to why financial burden has become a staple in patients diagnosed with cancer.

The Rise Of Oral Drugs And The Shift In Insurance Settings

Oral drugs or medications that come in pill forms have become more attractive both in patients and private insurance companies.

Private insurance companies prefer oral cancer drugs, with researchers saying that these companies offer generous coverage when it comes to the said medication forms.

In the recent years, more costs of cancer treatment have been passed on to patients, creating added problems to the already challenge-stricken families.

Dr. Stacie Dusetzina from the University of North Carolina says patients are increasingly shouldering the burden of paying these expensive specialty medications as insurance plans are directed toward higher deductibles.

Patients are also faced with higher co-insurance, which drives them to pay a portion of the drug cost instead of just a simple co-pay.

Higher Efficiency, Higher Prices

More and more patients also prefer oral cancer drugs over chemotherapy because of convenience and efficiency. This then drives pharmaceutical companies to take advantage and increase prices given the demand.

Also, Shawn Osborne from University Hospitals of Cleveland says that oral drugs have acquired more attention because of evidences of better outcomes.

"It's a more targeted therapy that's typically more pleasant than infusion chemotherapy," he says.

Aside from that, these effective oral cancer drugs are fairly new, thus access is quite obscure, leading to higher costs.

Cancer Equates Bankruptcy

In a CBS feature in 2014, correspondent Lesley Stahl interviewed gastric cancer specialist Dr. Leonard Saltz from the Memorial Sloan Kettering.

In the said feature, Saltz said that receiving a cancer diagnosis has become a leading cause of personal bankruptcy.

When asked if this means that high drug costs has become a side effect of cancer, he answered that it looks like it and that the world is beginning to use "financial toxicity" when talking about the subject.

"Individual patients are going into bankruptcy trying to deal with these prices," he said.

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