Health

Doctors Around World Slam Drug Companies for High Medication Prices

| by Michael Allen
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Over 100 leading cancer specialists in 15 countries slammed big drug companies for charging "astronomical" high prices for drugs that cancer patients need to survive, notes the New York Times.

Leading cancer doctors and researchers compared the drug companies' pricing to “profiteering” from a natural disaster in a new paper published in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology.

The global specialists wrote: “Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients... Medical illness and drug prices are the single most frequent cause of personal bankruptcy.”

The paper stated that the cancer drug Gleevac, originally priced at $30K a year in 2001, now costs $90K.

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Gleevac's manufacturer Novartis told the New York Times that few patients pay the full cost and the enormous price is to cover developing new medications.

However, Dr. Brian Druker, who helped develop Gleevac, criticized Novartis' for making $4.7 billion in sales for the drug in 2012.

“If you are making $3 billion a year on Gleevec, could you get by with $2 billion?” Dr. Druker told New York Times. “When do you cross the line from essential profits to profiteering?”

According to the Washington Post, 11 of the 12 new cancer drugs approved by the FDA in 2012 cost over $100,000 a year.  However, only one of three drugs improved actual survival rates and that was only for two months or less. Even with insurance, a cancer patient would pay $20,000 to $30,000 just to stay alive.

Sources: New York Times and Washington Post