Drugs And Politics: It's Election Time

Drug prices likely to become an election issue--one way or another...Drug prices are in the news again. Partly to blame is the success of the current crop of cancer drugs. For one thing, they seem to work where others before did not and for another they are orders of magnitude more expensive than their predecessors. For patients, the math is simple. The drugs have fewer side effects and they extend lives. But precisely that fact, the extended life expectancy, only makes the cost problem worse, at least in the short term. While the recent ASCO meeting highlighted the successes of Avastin, Erbitux, Tarceva and others, little or no attention was paid to prices. According to Leonard Salz of Memorial Sloan Kettering, the wholesale cost of drugs for advanced colon cancer has risen from around $500 in 1999 to over $250,000 today.

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