Cancer patients are losing out on easy access to drugs due to hike in prices of life-saving medication by more than 1,000 percent and delay in the availability of new treatments, finds a new study.
According to researchers, patients are suffering due to delay in the availability of new treatments and incomprehensible price rises for well-established therapies. The findings revealed that 20 treatments have risen ob over 100 percent in the last five years and two medicines - busulfan (used to treat leukaemia) and tamoxifen (breast cancer) - prices have increased by over 1000 percent.
‘Cancer patients are suffering due to delay in the availability of new treatments and incomprehensible price rises for well-established therapies.’
They also found that some companies take over the supply of some generic cancer medicines and then raise the price progressively. "There is no value for patients if new cancer drugs are developed and approved but they are unable to benefit from them," said Markus Hartmann. "Between 2011 and 2016, the prices for some common drugs increased by more than 1000 percent.
At a time when the UK Cancer Drugs Fund is being re-examined because of the pressure caused by high prices, this is particularly worrying," said senior author Dr Andrew Hill from the University of Liverpool, UK. Paying these high prices puts undue strain on health systems and the long-term result could be negative consequences for disease progression and survival.
"We hope that, by explaining what we have found in the UK, other European countries will take note and protect themselves against these kinds of price rises," stated Dr Hill. The results show that several key cancer treatments could be manufactured for less than one percent of the prices charged. For example, tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, can be manufactured for less than two US dollars per month of treatment, and imatinib, used in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, can be produced for $54 per month.
The authors stated low costs could form the initial step in setting up programmes in low and middle income countries. "Showing that certain cancers could be treated for very low prices could transform the future of people with these cancers in very low-income countries where there are usually few or no treatment options," the researchers explained.