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Patients feeling crunch due to higher oral cancer drug prices

A study published Thursday in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows how patients are staggering under the immense weight of oral cancer prices.

The study claims that certain oral medications for cancer have increased at unbelievably high rates since 2000, with the average cost for some of these treatments still making a fantastic leap even with inflation taken into account, as one of the researchers was quoted. As for newer drugs, those medications are far more expensive than existing drugs on the market. Each of the medications covered have their own capabilities in treating cancer, and aren’t as physically stressful as chemotherapy treatments usually are.

Specifically, the cost of these oral cancer drugs rose from an average of $1,869 per month for products introduced in 2000 to $11,325 per month for the drugs introduced in 2014. The above researcher was also quoted as saying that products launched after 2010 were 63 percent more expensive in their first year of launch than those drugs launched from 2000 to 2010. Oral medications launched between 2000 and 2010 cost patients a mean amount of $5,529 in their first year, while those launched after 2010 had patients out by a mean of $9,013 over the same one-year period.

“The major trend here is that these products are just getting more expensive over time,” said study author Stacie Dusetzina of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Patients are increasingly taking on the burden of paying for these high-cost specialty drugs as plans move toward use of higher deductibles and co-insurance — where a patient will pay a percentage of the drug cost rather than a flat copay,”

University Hospitals of Cleveland vice president of Pharmacy and Supply Chain Services Shawn Osborne was not involved in the study, but he opined that the oral cancer treatments covered in the study have earned more attention from patients and doctors because they tend to provide better outcomes than conventional chemotherapy. But he also expressed hope that prices of these drugs may one day firm and stop increasing at such a fast pace.

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