New cancer drug renews debate about costs

The drug Opdivo, which went on sale in Japan this week, costs an average of $143,000 per patient, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Wall Street Journal: Powerful New Cancer Drugs Offer Hope-;At Steep Cost
The first of a promising new class of cancer drugs went on sale in Japan this week at an average annual cost of $143,000 a patient, a harbinger of hefty prices the new drugs are expected to command in the U.S. and Europe in coming months. The drug Opdivo, from Ono Pharmaceutical Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., is a so-called PD-1 inhibitor, a new type of drug that harnesses the body's immune system to fight tumors, including melanoma. Several other pharmaceutical companies are also developing PD-1 targeting drugs. High prices for the treatments come as concerns mount about the affordability of new drugs. Debate about pricing reached a peak this year with the launch of an expensive new drug for hepatitis C (Loftus, 9/3).

Also, an interview with the AMA president about the government's plans to open a database of payments to physicians that was created in response to concerns that they may be overly influenced by drug and device makers.

The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot: AMA Bemoans CMS Sunshine Data Problems: 'It's Hard to Unring the Bell'
Over the past few weeks, the American Medical Association has complained publicly and privately to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over its so-called Open Payments database, which will display what drug and device makers pay physicians. ... But the database has been plagued by delays and technical glitches. The AMA is concerned that physicians lack the needed time to ensure correct data is displayed and that the public will understood what they see. The database is expected to go live on Sept. 30, but the AMA wants a six-month postponement to compensate for the problems. ... We spoke with AMA president Robert Wah about the frustrations (Silverman, 9/3).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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