The real cancer killer: rip-off prices for drugs !

An influential group of cancer experts has warned that the high prices charged by pharmaceutical companies for cancer drugs are effectively condemning patients to death.The group of more than 100 leading cancer physicians from around the world, including nine from the UK, accuse the drug industry of “profiteering” – making a profit by unethical methods such as by raising the cost of grain after a natural disaster. Of the 12 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 2012, 11 were priced above $100,000 (£65,000) per patient per year. In addition the price of existing drugs of proven effectiveness has been increased by up to threefold. The specialists say: “What determines a morally justifiable ‘just price’ for a cancer drug? A reasonable drug price  should maintain healthy pharmaceutical industry profits without being viewed as ‘profiteering’.


One of the best known – imatinib, whose brand name is Glivec – has proved so successful in chronic myeloid leukaemia that patients who a decade ago survived for a few years can now look forward to a near-normal life expectancy.

But the cost of Glivec has risen from £18,000 per patient per year to around £21,000 in the UK, and from $30,000 to $92,000 in the US. This is despite the fact that all research costs were covered by the original price, and the number of patients treated and the length of time they are on the drug have both vastly increased because of the drug’s success.

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