Prices for can­cer drugs high­est in US, least af­ford­able in In­dia and China, Rabin Med­i­cal Cen­ter study says


CHICAGO (Reuters) – Amer­i­cans pay the high­est prices in the world for can­cer drugs, but the treat­ments are least af­ford­able in lower-in­come coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of a new study re­leased on Mon­day.

The study of can­cer-drug prices in seven coun­tries, which did not take into ac­count dis­counts or re­bates to list prices, was pre­sented at the an­nual meet­ing of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Clin­i­cal On­col­ogy in Chicago.

The low­est drug prices were found in In­dia and South Africa. But af­ter cal­cu­lat­ing price as a per­cent­age of wealth ad­justed for the cost of liv­ing, can­cer drugs ap­peared to be least af­ford­able in In­dia and China.

Re­searchers at Rabin Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Pe­tah Tikva cal­cu­lated monthly drug doses for 15 generic and eight brand-name can­cer drugs used to treat a wide range of can­cer types and stages. List prices in Aus­tralia, China, In­dia, South Africa, the United King­dom, Is­rael and the United States were ob­tained from gov­ern­ment web­sites.

The high prices com­manded by mod­ern can­cer drugs are gen­er­at­ing in­creased re­sis­tance and de­mands for price dis­counts from politi­cians, health-care providers, in­sur­ers, pa­tients and some doc­tors.

Drug com­pa­nies ar­gue that they need to make a profit to pay for the bil­lions of dol­lars needed for drug re­search. Many com­pa­nies also have ex­ten­sive low-cost or free-ac­cess schemes for pa­tients who can­not af­ford their medicines.

The study’s re­searchers used sta­tis­tics for gross domestic prod­uct and cost of liv­ing from the International Mon­e­tary Fund to es­ti­mate drug price af­ford­abil­ity.

Me­dian monthly prices for branded drugs ranged from $1,515 in In­dia to $8,694 in the US. For gener­ics, me­dian prices were the high­est in the US, at $654, and the low­est in South Africa, at $120, and In­dia, at $159.

In terms of abil­ity to pay, the study found can­cer drugs to be most af­ford­able in Aus­tralia, where generic drugs were priced at 3 per­cent of “domestic prod­uct per capita at pur­chas­ing power par­ity,” and patented drugs were 71% of the same mea­sure.

In China, the study found prices of generic drugs were 48% of wealth ad­justed for the cost of liv­ing, and patented drugs were 288% of the same mea­sure.

In In­dia, the cost of gener­ics was 33% of that mea­sure, while patented drugs were 313% of it.

In the US, gener­ics were found to be priced at 14% of wealth ad­justed for the cost of liv­ing, and patented can­cer drugs were 192% of the same mea­sure.

The study did not take into ac­count that drug costs are paid by ei­ther the gov­ern­ment, health in­sur­ers or pa­tients them­selves, depend­ing on each coun­try’s health-insurance sys­tem.

World­wide spend­ing on can­cer medicines will ex­ceed $150 bil­lion by 2020, driven by the emer­gence of ex­pen­sive new ther­a­pies that help the im­mune sys­tem to at­tack tu­mors, ac­cord­ing to a fore­cast ear­lier this year from IMS Health Hold­ings.

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