NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) today criticized a so-called cost calculator for cancer medications as inaccurate and potentially dangerous.
An article in the Wall Street Journal says, “Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York has created an interactive calculator that compares the cost of more than 50 cancer drugs with what the prices would be if they were tied to factors such as the side effects the drugs produce, and the amount of extra life they give patients. “
According to the news report, “One of the nation’s top cancer hospitals is challenging the pharmaceutical industry to adopt a more rational approach to drug pricing.” However, economist Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Vice President of CENTER FOR MEDICINE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, says in doing so a price calculating tool created by Dr. Peter Bach creates a one-sided calculation.
Dr. Goldberg says the calculator proposes prices for specific medications that do not reflect their development costs or their value in terms of offsetting other medical costs such as hospital costs while allowing people to continue to be productive, working and paying bills. If the prices are forced down by these calculations, doctors refuse to prescribe them, or patients refuse to take them, peer reviewed studies show that limiting access to advanced cancer therapies based on price could lead to increased mortality and shorter survival. He adds, “A one-size-fits-all calculator does not show how many patients could be kept alive long enough to benefit from the next generation of cancer therapies. That is how we have been able to increase survival.”
Just looking at one rare form of cancer, multiple myeloma, an abstract published in conjunction with the recent global ASCO cancer conference showed, “Multiple myeloma survival improved dramatically with the introduction of new therapies in the mid-late 2000s.” A second study published in the peer reviewed journal BLOOD shows the overall cost of care for each patient DECLINED 68 percent within the first 18 months of treatment, actually saving money. This is not reflected in the calculator.
Dr. Goldberg added, “We also have to take hospital costs into account. I looked at what Memorial Sloan Kettering charged for treating colon cancer patients and between 1998 and 2012 their charges rose from $20,000 per patient to about $90,000 per patient.”
This is the latest in a series of attacks on drug prices. As the Wall Street Journal states, the project is “the latest salvo” from doctors and others against the escalating costs of cancer drugs. Dr. Goldberg says it is time to start supporting patients and not just attacking the innovation that is saving and extending lives.