A group of over 100 doctors recently banded together to declare that “lower drug prices [are] a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them,” as written in their article in Blood, the medical journal published by the American Society of Hematology. We couldn’t agree with them more.
The doctors, experts in chronic myeloid leukemia, focused particularly on the drug Gleevec (imatinib), which costs around $100,000 annually per patient in the United States. Gleevec costs around $35,000 internationally.
There is nothing politically or economically radical about their position. In fact, they acknowledge the societal and political pressures that affect drug pricing, as well as the necessity of profits by drug companies to fund future research. They simply seek fair pricing.
Unfortunately, cancer medication prices are dramatically increasing and are not “fair.” To quote the Blood article: “imatinib may have set the pace for the rising cost of cancer drugs. Initially priced at nearly $30,000 per year when it was released in 2001, its price has now increased to $92,000 in 2012 (1), despite the fact that all research costs were accounted for in the original proposed price….”
Such protests can work; last year doctors at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital pressured Sanofi into effectively halving Zaltrap’s initial market price of $11,000 by offering discounts. We hope that these precedents mobilize more doctors to hop on the bandwagon to further publicize that high drug prices in the U.S. are a serious threat to the public health.Tagged with: cancer, Gleevec, Sanofi