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118 Experts Support Calls To Lower Prices Of Cancer Meds

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A total of 118 oncology doctors all across the US have come together to heed the call of cancer patients regarding expensive drugs required for their treatments. The group of experts proposed several measures, which could help to lower the prices of cancer medications. The group also expressed their support for a patient-based grassroots efforts that necessitates answers to these issues.

The high prices of cancer drugs are influencing the delivery of health care for patients with cancer, says Ayalew Tefferi, M.D., lead author and a hematologist at Mayo Clinic. In a US household, the average gross income is approximately $52,000 per year. A cancer patient requires about $120,000 per year for drug expenses but if insured, the total out-of-pocket-expense may reach up to $25,000 to $30,000, which is more than 50 percent of the household income on the average.

The proposal, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, cited a study performed in 2015 by D.H. Howard and colleagues et al, which discovered that over the past 15 years, the costs of medications for cancer treatment shot up by an annual average of $8,500.

The recommendations made by the group are said to improve the current situation of the patients and enable market forces to work more efficiently. The actions suggested by the group include forming a panel that would perform review mechanisms after a drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, enabling Medicare to bargain on the costs of drugs, allowing the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute to assess the benefits of new drugs and allow similar groups to evaluate the value of emerging treatments, enabling import transactions for personal use across boundaries, where drugs are cheaper, passing laws that will inhibit pharmaceutical companies to delay availability of generic medications, changing the mechanisms of patent system in a way that will delay drug product exclusivity and supporting oncology specialist organizations to review the general value of medicines and other therapies in devising more appropriate treatment guidelines.

The group of experts also backs up the advocacy on change.org that works against overly expensive cancer drug costs and aims to be heard by drug companies and other associated authorites to the issue.

"With proper support of these grassroots efforts and proper use of that support downstream, it should be possible to focus the attention of pharmaceutical companies on this problem," the authors write. This will also encourage elected representatives to stand for the most pressing issues that their constituents - the American cancer patients - are facing.

Photo: Phil and Pam Gradwell | Flickr

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