As healthcare providers, it is our responsibility to ensure our patients have access to necessary treatments, including prescription medications. However, the rising cost of prescription drugs has become a significant barrier to patient care. Patients are struggling to afford their medications, leading to delayed or inadequate treatment, compromising their health outcomes. The cost of prescription medications has continued to increase, with some medications costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The rising cost of prescription drugs is an alarming trend that must be addressed by healthcare providers, policymakers, and pharmaceutical companies.
The high cost of prescription drugs has become increasingly common in cancer treatment. In recent years, many new cancer treatments have been approved by the FDA, including immunotherapies and targeted therapies. While these treatments have shown to improve outcomes, they come with a high cost. For instance, the cancer medication Kymriah, approved in 2017 for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), costs $475,000 for a single course of treatment. Another example is Zolgensma, a gene therapy treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, which costs $2.1 million per year.
These exorbitant prices can make it challenging for patients to access necessary treatments. Insurance companies may not cover the cost of certain medications, or patients may have high deductibles and copays that are unaffordable. Patients often forego or delay treatment, leading to poorer health outcomes. This is especially concerning in cancer treatment, where timely treatment is crucial to achieving the best possible outcomes.
Healthcare providers can play a crucial role in addressing the issue of rising drug costs. One strategy is to prescribe generic medications whenever possible. Generic drugs are often significantly cheaper than brand-name medications and are equally effective. Additionally, we can advocate for policies that increase transparency in drug pricing and lower drug costs. For instance, drug price negotiations between Medicare and pharmaceutical companies have been proposed as a potential solution to lower drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
It is our responsibility as healthcare providers to advocate for our patients and ensure they have access to necessary treatments. We must work together with policymakers, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies to address the issue of rising drug costs and increase transparency in drug pricing. By doing so, we can ensure that our patients receive the care they need to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Kymriah. (n.d.). Novartis. Retrieved from https://www.novartis.com/sites/www.novartis.com/files/kymriah-leaflet.pdf
Miller, M. (2019). How Much Does Zolgensma Cost? $2.1 Million. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2019/05/24/how-much-does-zolgensma-cost-21-million/?sh=54d4c1e6424f
Neumann, P. J., & Chambers, J. D. (2018). Medicare’s Role in Negotiating Drug Prices. New England Journal of Medicine, 379(6), 505–513. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMhpr1803613
Sheppard, A. (2019). Cancer drugs cost far more in the U.S. than in other countries. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-09-25/cancer-drug-prices-united-states