A group of 118 cancer doctors urged huge pharmaceutical firms to make cancer drugs more affordable, particularly to the masses. Doctors explained that it would cost an individual roughly $8,500 a year to get cancer treatment, far too expensive for an average middle class and nearly impossible for someone living belong the poverty line.
Dr Ayalew Tefferi, cancer specialist at Mayo Clinic, relates the high cost of cancer drugs to the survival of cancer patients and to the country's health system as a whole. Tefferi, the lead researcher, mentioned that the average household income per annum in the U.S. is only $52,000. He also relates that if an individual is insured, he still would have to spend at least $30,000 per annum for cancer treatment. That eats more than half of his household income.
Dr Tefferi called for the establishment of a regulatory board to evaluate the price of cancer drugs and possible provide price ceiling on this. Doctors are already lobbying for the passage of a law that would enable Medicare to parley the prices with drug makers.
Doctors also wanted to allow the import of cancer drugs from Canada, which are sold cheaper there than in the U.S. This would compel local drug makers to be competitive until the prices of several local brands would eventually drop.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association, however, shrugged the doctors' petitions. Robert Zirkelbach, the group's spokesperson, said the doctors failed to see that conducting an extensive and often long-term research to developing a new drug is really expensive. Zirkelbach also pointed out that lowering drug prices could mean spending less on innovation towards cancer care.
"The article ignores the fact that cancer medicines represent only one-fifth of total spending on cancer treatment. The policy proposals they recommend would send a chilling signal to the marketplace that risk-taking will no longer be rewarded," Zirkelbach explained.