Perspectives: The Dream For Curing Cancer Now A Reality, But Costs Stand In The Way
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
The Wall Street Journal:
We Can’t Afford The Drugs That Could Cure Cancer
When I was training as an oncologist nearly three decades ago, we dreamed of curing cancer. Today, advances in cellular immunotherapy make it no longer a dream: A cure for cancer has become possible, even probable. But tragically, the costs of these drug therapies are so high that the American health care system can’t afford them. A potential revolution in cancer care may be stymied by the high price of drugs, which suggests that we need to reconsider how we price them. (Ezekiel Emanuel, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Britons Pay Hundreds For H.I.V. Drugs. Why Do Americans Pay Thousands?
Last week, the High Court of England and Wales announced a momentous decision: It invalidated the pharmaceutical company Gilead’s patent on Truvada, opening the way to generic competition. Truvada, a combination of two drugs, is one of the world’s most-used H.I.V. medicines. For treating H.I.V., it’s used along with a third drug. But many H.I.V.-negative people also take Truvada daily as a preventive. That’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.In the United States, Truvada is available only as a brand-name drug. It costs $20,000 a year. (Tina Rosenberg, 9/25)
Amarin Fish-Oil Heart Medicine Win Is Rarest Drug Success
When medical breakthroughs are announced, they often affect a surprisingly small number of people. Many new drugs these days are targeting rare diseases or niche patient groups, and their impact is further restricted by price. Monday’s results from Amarin Corp.’s test of purified fish oil Vascepa in people at risk for heart diseases are an exception — and one more likely than any recent drug outcome to affect the average person reading this column. (Max Nisen, 9/24)
Tuberculosis Is A Disease The World Could Control. But Will It?
The United Nations General Assembly might be best known for causing several days of traffic jams in midtown New York City. But this year, for the first time ever, one of the days will be devoted to tuberculosis. On September 26, heads of state and other leaders (Bill Gates is filling the U.S. speaker slot) will make comments, unveil a grand plan to fight TB, and share the funding commitments and other concrete steps that each country will take to fulfill an already-made pledge to beat back TB. The drugs to fight the disease are also improving. Bedaquiline and another new medicine, delamanid, are the first new TB drugs in over 40 years — yes, 40 years. Thanks largely to government incentives, they were developed, approved for use, and made widely available in 2015. (Paul Farmer and Lelio Marmora, 9/26)
Disclosures Suggest Rebates And Insurers Responsible For Rising Out-Of-Pocket Drug Costs
With just six weeks to go until the midterm elections, candidates from both parties are looking for wedge issues to turn out support. Democrats hope that prescription drug prices are one of those issues. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has instructed her colleagues to campaign on a three point plan of President Trump, the economy, and health care costs — specifically the cost of prescription drugs. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senators, has made prescription drug prices her signature issue. "I’m going after the pharmaceutical companies," she says. (Terry Wilcox, 9/24)
The Morality Of Prescription Drug Pricing In America
While walking through the duty-free at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., I happened upon the price tag of an imported French purse. Looking around, I wondered how many travelers could afford a $2,000 handbag. At the gate, I found a seat and logged on to the internet, where I happened upon a story about the CEO of Nostrum Laboratories, Nirmal Mulye. In an interview, Mr. Mulye explained why he raised the price of an antibiotic by more than 400%, from under $500 to over $2,000. (Pear, 9/24)
Lilly Animal-Health IPO Elanco Makes Buyers Sit Up
Investors in Elanco Animal Health Inc. — the unit of Eli Lilly & Co., which went public on Thursday — are hoping for some of that Zoetis Inc. magic. And no wonder: Zoetis, too, is a former big pharma animal-health unit (of Pfizer Inc.), and has been a huge success since its own IPO in 2013, rising nearly 250 percent. But cosmetic similarity and IPO-day excitement may be causing an excess of optimism. (Max Nisen, 9/20)