More Than 100 Doctors Object to High Cancer Drug Prices

July 23, 2015

The Wall Street Journal (Whalen, 7/23) reported that 118 oncologists from top cancer hospitals have focused “attention on the financial burden [of high cancer drug prices] to patients, saying the out-of-pocket costs are bankrupting many just as they’re fighting a deadly illness,” in an editorial published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a monthly peer-reviewed journal. The doctors wrote in the Proceedings that patients “have to make difficult choices between spending their incomes [and liquidating assets] on potentially lifesaving therapies or forgoing treatment to provide for family necessities. … As a result, about 10% to 20% of cancer patients don’t take their treatment as prescribed.” The doctors say much more can be done to control prices—“they recommend allowing Medicare to negotiate pricing directly with pharmaceutical companies; … propose changing U.S. law to allow patients to import cancer drugs for personal use from other countries; … reforming the patent system to make it more difficult to prolong product exclusivity; and using better regulation to prevent branded pharmaceutical companies from striking any deals with generic-drug companies that would delay the market launch of lower cost generics.”