Ms. Austin-Fink, a 59-year-old writer who lives in Las Vegas had breast cancer. She received six doses of the chemotherapy drug Abraxane at $4.200 per dose. The cost of the drug did not concern her because she has excellent insurance coverage. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My insurance company just paid it, because my doctors said they needed it, and the insurance company doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t argue with stuff like that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ms. Austin-Fink said.
AbraxaneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s effectivness and side-effect profile is similar to that of Paclitaxel, which was approved for treatment of breast cancer in 1992 and is still widely used. Bristol-Myers SquibbÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s patent on Taxol expired in 2000. Now the drug is available as a generic at a cost of about $150 a dose. But, because of the odd economics of the cancer drug market, AbraxaneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s price does not seem to be hurting its popularity
While insurers have tried to save money in other drug categories by encouraging patients to use cheaper generic drugs, they face public pressure not to restrict access to new cancer treatments. In addition, doctors treating cancer patients are imune to treatment costs. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m with a patient, my job is to be a patient advocate, not to try to save society money on chemotherapy,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Dr. Barbara McAneny, of Albuquerque.
The rise in cancer-drug prices is a microcosm of broader trends pushing up health care costs nationally. Despite decades of efforts by governments and insurers to restrain costs, patients continue to want the newest Ã¢â‚¬â€ and most expensive Ã¢â‚¬â€ drugs and medical devices. And doctors and the health care industry have little reason to keep costs in check, because insurers rarely deny coverage for new treatments on the basis of price.
See full new York Times story - Hope, at $4,200 a Dose