Deena Beasley from Reuters reports that American Oncologists have become less willing to prescribe less effective medicines as patients are now paying a higher percentage of cancer treatments. According to a number of prominent cancer specialists, six or more drugs including Bayer AG’s Stivarga and Eli Lilly & Co’s Cyramza simply do not justify their $100,000 per year price tags.
Price sensitivity on the doctors’ part could prove detrimental to the profits of drug companies like Celgene Corp. according to the author. Data show that global expenditures on cancer medication exceed $100 billion in 2014, which stands as a 10% increase from 2013.
Cancer Specialists are largely uninterested with what they call “me too” drugs. These drugs were introduced by corporations in an effort to steal market share from an existing product. Furthermore, it appears as if these doctors are less inclined to prescribe a drug outside of its recommended indication as a last resort for patients.
Dr Bach of Memorial Slaon Kettering’s Center for Health Policy and Outcomes in New York notes that the substantial cost of these drugs, up to $10,000 per month, are too high to justify considering the marginal benefits they add.
This alteration in behavior from doctors is in part caused by the fact that American patients are now responsible for covering a higher percentage of their health costs. Large medical groups like the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network are both working to create a process for considering a drug’s price in their decision making. Until these changes come to fruition, however, many doctors are taking it into their own hands.
Dr. Meropol, who serves as the Chief of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland points out that, in the past, the prices of drug were largely a non-factor unless the patient brought attention to it.