KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The cost of drugs to treat cancer has doubled in the last decade, according to a new report. The average cost for a brand-name drug is $10,000 for a month’s supply.
Barbara French only half-jokingly calls herself an expensive woman.
“It’s just mindboggling,” she said, referring to the cost of the drugs that put her blood cancer, a rare form of myeloma, in remission.
Rituxan, a drug French takes every other month, costs just under $10,000 a dose. Her insurance covers all but $55. But for others, co-payments are higher and rising as drug costs rise.
The new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics shows the price of chemo drugs has doubled over the last decade, and you can’t put it all on manufacturers. The report says more patients are being treated at hospital outpatient facilities instead of doctors’ offices, and the hospitals charge on average 189% more for the most common chemo treatments.
FOX 4 posed the question of whether that’s reasonable to the director of pharmacy at the University of Kansas Hospital which owns K.U. Cancer Center.
“It’s hard for me to say. I don’t know what they compared those to or what the payment structure was,” said Rick Couldry.
Couldry said higher costs may be the result of more comprehensive care.
“There’s a difference or a reason probably why patients are desiring to come to a large center,” said Couldry.
Barbara French didn’t go to one.
“It didn’t make sense to me to go to the hospital when I could go to the doctor’s office and get the same service,” she said.
French, a nurse, knew her already expensive drug would cost more at a hospital. So she goes to her doctor’s office for infusions. But she knows lots of cancer patients don’t have that option since hospitals have bought many doctors’ practices.
Couldry said if patients have trouble paying for their drugs, there are assistance programs through foundations and drug manufacturers.