Soaring Drug Prices Bring New Challenges

Tony Hagen @oncobiz
Published: Saturday, Feb 11, 2017
blood cells It’s not getting any easier in the oncolytics dispensary business. Just ask Jeff Liticker, PharmD, of UT Southwestern Medical Center. Not only are drug prices soaring with the arrival of many new therapies, but competition for the drug dispensing and drug infusion business is on the rise, he said in a recent talk about oncology drug issues sponsored by the Association of Community Cancer Centers.

From patent to approval, the time involved for drug development fell from 10.25 years in 2013 to 9.5 years in 2015, Liticker said. Meanwhile, the cost of treating one patient with cancer for a year rose from 0,000 in 2012 to 0,000 in 2014. The same phenomenon can be observed by other measures. In 2010, the United States spent almost billion on just cancer drugs alone. That number rose to billion by 2015, Liticker said. Those totals do not include the costs of supportive care drugs. “What are these supportive care drugs costing us, and what’s our estimated 2020 expenditure? In the United States alone, it’s almost billion by 2020 for everything looking at cancer,” he said. “That’s a considerable chunk of change, and guess who the primary payer by 2020 will be for these? CMS or Medicare. So, of course, they’ve got a real hand in making sure we spend less on drugs over the next few years.”

Less Clinical Information Is Available About New Drugs

One of the downsides of rapid drug approvals is that considerably less information about adverse events is available at the time the FDA gives its imprimatur for marketing. “We’re looking at almost half the knowledge base when that drug hits the market,” Liticker said. “As trials get designed better, we have fewer patients, so there are fewer reports coming in of side effects. The result is we have patients getting drugs that we don’t know nearly as much about now as we would have 20 years ago.”
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