Should the U.S. Government Cap the Cost of Cancer Drugs?

The average price of new cancer drugs increased 5- to 10-fold over 15 years.
The average price of new cancer drugs increased 5- to 10-fold over 15 years.

In a recently published commentary in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 118 of the nation's leading cancer experts called for initiatives to lower the price of cancer drugs. Lead author Ayalew Tefferi, MD, a hematologist at Mayo, and his co-authors pointed out that in the U.S., the average price of new cancer drugs increased 5- to 10-fold over 15 years. 

The average gross household income in the U.S. is about $52,000 a year, yet the out-of-pocket expenses for an insured patient who needs a cancer drug that costs $120,000 a year could be as much as $25,000 to $30,000.

Among other initiatives, the authors called for allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and for the creation of a post-FDA drug approval review mechanism to propose a fair price for new treatments, based on the value to patients and health care.

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