The public outcries are overwhelming with the cost of cancer treatment and prescription drugs like the cost of chemotherapy. A new report from the IMS Institute finds that global spending on oncology treatments reached $100 billion last year, which represented a 10.3% increase from the previous year and a huge rise from $75 billion spent five years ago.
The Cost of Cancer Treatment
On a worldwide basis, cancer drugs and chemotherapy accounted for 10.8% of spending on all medicines in 2014, up from 10.1% in 2010. In the U.S., spending on cancer drugs and chemotherapy accounted for 11.3% of all drug spending last year. On a per-capita basis, spending in the U.S. reached $99 in 2014, up from $71 in 2010, with similar increases occurring in other major markets.
The high cost of cancer chemotherapy can be prohibitive for many cancer patients.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of cancer patients younger than 65 delay or refuse treatment due to the high associated cost.
One of the main factors leading to a higher average cost of chemotherapy is the introduction of newer and better drugs, which are also extremely expensive. A larger number of patients can not afford chemotherapy because of high deductibles or reimbursements by insurance companies that are not specified for that particular new cancer treatment.
The cost of cancer treatment of eight weeks of chemotherapy can range from $100 to $30,000.
Treatment with inexpensive drugs is around $300 dollars for eight weeks. However, to improve therapeutic effect, these drugs are often used in combination with newer drugs which are typically more expensive. According to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts, the addition of newer chemotherapy drugs can push up the cost of the dosing regimen to as much as $30,000.
The cost of chemotherapy can vary widely depending on a number of factors. The choice of drugs, as well as frequency and duration of dosing regimen, can affect the cost. Hospital charges add to the cost of the drug and can vary widely, depending upon the location of the patient. Cancer Care Costs in the United States Are Projected to Exceed $245 Billion by 2030
The cost of cancer treatment in summary from the IMS report:
In the U.S., patient out-of-pocket costs associated with intravenous cancer drugs rose sharply. Between 2012 and 2013, out-of-pocket costs for IV cancer drugs grew by 71% but only 16% for oral medications.
Overall therapy treatment costs per month have increased 39% over the past ten years in inflation-adjusted terms, similar to the 42% increase in overall response rates and 45% increase in months that patients are on each therapy.
Prof Richard Fordham, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and second most common cancer overall with two million cases per year worldwide.
“Most patients require surgery, additional radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination of these to reduce the risk of cancer coming back. Around a third of breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy, but there are grey areas around which patients do and don’t need chemotherapy.
- The total cost of breast cancer chemotherapy in the UK economy is over £248 million.
- Societal productivity losses of £141.4 million – including £3.2 million lost to premature mortality, and £133.7 million lost to short-term (£28.7 m) and long-term (105m) work absence. Further costs include £3.4m associated with mortality losses from secondary malignancies due to adjuvant chemotherapy and £1.1m in lost productivity arises from informal care provision.
- £1.1 million in lost productivity arises from informal care provision.
- Out-of-pocket patient costs for chemotherapy total £4.2million, or an annual average of £1,100 per patient.
In addition, costs for the emotional wellbeing of carers could be as much as £82 million. Emotional wellbeing reflects how much additional income would be required to offset a well-being loss.
Dr. Stephanie Howard-Wilsher, also of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We spoke to breast cancer patients who had undertaken chemotherapy to better understand the actual experiences and impacts of these costs. We also interviewed healthcare staff involved in breast cancer care for their views on chemotherapy and associated costs.
“The interviews with patients really show the impact that breast cancer has on lives. They talk about their worlds just falling apart, and chemotherapy side effects like hair loss, tiredness, constipation, and diarrhea, loss of taste. And they also talk about the emotional impact on their families and those caring for them.