Female cancer patient talking to a doctor

What Can Be Done to Make Cancer Medication Affordable?

A cancer diagnosis  is not always a death sentence. Doctors administer treatments that destroy all traces of it if it is caught in the early stages. At the very least, medical procedures and treatments extend a person’s life.

However, cancer is eventually fatal if someone leaves their condition untreated. Depending on what kind of cancer it is, the disease’s spread can cause numerous health complications that will inevitably lead to the patient’s demise. Because of this, most doctors will urge cancer patients to receive medical treatment. Unfortunately, these life-saving medications come with crippling price tags.

Bleeding Them Dry

The exorbitant prices of some medication sometimes make it necessary for people to come up with methods to raise funds for cancer patients. According to sources, the average price for treatment can reach the range of $150,000. Without financial aid or some form of monetary support, people paying for these treatments are hard-pressed to maintain an income.

Big pharmaceutical companies are coming up with new ways to treat multiple forms of cancer, but each one can drive people to bankruptcy. For example, in 2012 the Food and Drug Administration approved 12 new cancer drugs for consumption, 11 of them will cost patients over $100,000 every year.

Pharmaceutical companies have defended the price of their products by saying that developing these vital medications isn’t cheap. They say they have to earn back the cost of the resources they dedicate to researching, perfecting, and distributing the drugs, or else their companies could face financial trouble.

The World Health Organization published a report on the subject t in 2018. The report claimed pharmaceutical companies make 14 times what they spend on developing cancer drugs. On the other hand, the report notes that an average American woman with an early stage of breast cancer has to spend an amount equal to 1.7 years of earnings to treat her condition.

Making Life Affordable

Husband supportive attitude after wife' s chemotherapy

In a paper published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a group comprised of 118 of the United State’s foremost cancer experts expounded on how to reduce the prices of cancer treatments. They emphasized the need to make cancer medication accessible and affordable by citing reports that indicate a third of all Americans will develop the disease in their lifetime.

In the paper, the experts urge legislators to enact multiple reforms. They advocate the following recommendations:

  • Legislation that prohibits pharmaceutical companies from delaying the public’s access to generic medication.
  • Reforms in the patent system that will make it hard for drug companies to extend the exclusivity of their patented medication.
  • Empower the Medicare program to negotiate the prices of cancer medication.
  • Allow patients to import cancer drugs from countries where these medicines have much cheaper prices, such as Canada.
  • Form a new organization that would review and propose fairer prices on new medication with parameters based on their value to patients.

Life is a gift that everyone deserves. To make people have to bleed themselves dry to eke out one more day, month, or year defies belief. One can only hope that compassion and basic human decency will triumph over greed and gluttony.