ASCO Offers Path to Addressing Affordability of Cancer Drugs in New Position Statement

Excerpt:

“The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued a position statement aimed at contributing to the national dialogue on rising cancer drug prices. The statement, which asserts that any solutions must also preserve patients’ access to care and foster innovation, analyzes a wide array of options and recommends that a panel of stakeholders be established to determine which proposals will be effective and develop a uniform approach for assessing the value of drugs.

“The ASCO position statement highlights that new cancer drugs routinely cost more than $100,000 per year, and prices on many existing treatments continue to rise, causing serious financial hardship even for many patients with insurance. Patients with cancer are more than twice as likely to declare bankruptcy as those without cancer;  nearly six in 10 report being distressed about their finances during treatment.  Many patients forego or delay treatments as a result, potentially compromising their effectiveness. Drugs are the fastest growing component of cancer care costs, which are expected to increase by more than 25 percent between 2010 and 2020.”

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'Skin in the Game' and Importing Cancer Drugs

” ‘Skin in the game’ is a phrase that has gained popularity in the healthcare market. It implies that if patients have a personal financial stake in a decision, such as higher out-of-pocket expenses, they will be more prudent and act more responsibly.

“Skin in the game can work to some degree, note Hagop Kantarjian, MD, chair of the Department of Leukemia, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and colleagues in a viewpoint article published online July 2 in JAMA Oncology.

“However, for many cancer patients, it has become ‘life in the game,’ they add.”


Money Woes Spawn Cancer Patient Treatment Shortcuts

“Even though health insurance usually pays for the lion’s share of cancer-related costs, it still is often not enough.

“A new study shows that many insured cancer patients must make changes to their lifestyle, and even to their adherence to treatment, to deal with the financial burden of the disease.

“The small survey involved 174 patients who were undergoing treatment for solid tumors. They were nearly all female (96%), and the majority had breast cancer (85%), but 4% had colorectal cancer and 11% had other types of solid tumors.

“All the participants had medical insurance, and all requested financial assistance through a national copay assistance program.

“However, despite their insurance status, many were struggling to pay for their care. The vast majority (89%) reported that they had to make at least one change in their lifestyle to cope with treatment-related costs.

“Of the patients who used lifestyle-altering strategies, 78% cut spending on leisure activities, 57% cut spending on basics such as food and clothing, 54% borrowed money to pay for medication, 50% dove into their savings, 18% sold possessions, and in 15% of cases, family members took on more work.”


New Tool Predicts Financial Pain for Cancer Patients

“In an online report in the journal Cancer, a team of University of Chicago cancer specialists have described the first tool—11 questions, assembled and refined from conversations with more than 150 patients with advanced cancer—to measure a patient’s risk for, and ability to tolerate, financial stress. The researchers refer to the expense, anxiety, and loss of confidence confronting cancer patients who face large, unpredictable costs, often compounded by decreased ability to work, as “financial toxicity,” and they have named their patient-reported outcome measure COST (COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity).”


New Tool Predicts Financial Pain for Cancer Patients

“In an online report in the journal Cancer, a team of University of Chicago cancer specialists have described the first tool—11 questions, assembled and refined from conversations with more than 150 patients with advanced cancer—to measure a patient’s risk for, and ability to tolerate, financial stress. The researchers refer to the expense, anxiety, and loss of confidence confronting cancer patients who face large, unpredictable costs, often compounded by decreased ability to work, as “financial toxicity,” and they have named their patient-reported outcome measure COST (COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity).”


New Tool Predicts Financial Pain for Cancer Patients

“In an online report in the journal Cancer, a team of University of Chicago cancer specialists have described the first tool—11 questions, assembled and refined from conversations with more than 150 patients with advanced cancer—to measure a patient’s risk for, and ability to tolerate, financial stress. The researchers refer to the expense, anxiety, and loss of confidence confronting cancer patients who face large, unpredictable costs, often compounded by decreased ability to work, as “financial toxicity,” and they have named their patient-reported outcome measure COST (COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity).”