Study: Cancer drugs in US cost up to 6,000% of production cost
- Patients in the U.S. pay more than twice as much for tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), used to treat cancer, than their European counterparts.
- Andrew Hill from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. conducted an analysis in which he used Indian government data as a source for the cost of ingredients, and he allowed for a 50% profit.
- Based on Hill's research, Novartis' leukemia drug, Glivec (imatinib) cost $159 for a one-year supply, versus a cost of $106,000 in the U.S., and Roche's Tarceva (erlotinib) for lung cancer cost $236 for a one-year treatment regimen, versus a U.S. price of $79,000. In the E.U., Glivec costs between $29,000 and $35,000 per year, while Tarceva costs between $26,000 and $29,000 for a one-year supply.
When commmenting on his research, Hill, who lives in Britain, made the point that patients in the U.S. and the U.S. healthcare system overall are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of the costs of cancer drugs. While Roche declined to comment on Hills findings, a Novartis spokesperson commented on the tremendous costs associated with R&D, and also factors, including manufacturing costs and the value of these drugs to the healthcare systems. In addition, many pharma companies offer low-cost drugs to patients who are unable to pay for them.
These factors notwithstanding, Hill and others have been building data-based arguments that highlight the chasm between the cost of developing drugs and the cost to patients—a situtation, which many consider unsustainable. All told, this has been a bad week for pharma companies in terms of large-scale pushback against high prices.