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Cancer Drug Price Hiked 1,536% in 4 Years

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Cancer Drug Price Hiked 1,536% in 4 Years

January 03
16:08 2018

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Remember the controversy over the price of EpiPens when the price was jacked up to $600 each for a one-use treatment for anaphylactic shock? After so much public outrage and negative media, the company finally reduced the price and eventually another company produced a similar product at the cheaper price.

If you, or someone you know, suffers from Hodgkin’s lymphoma or a brain tumor, you’re probably already aware of what’s happened to the popular medication often used to treat these forms of cancer.

Developed about 40-years, the drug lomustine, was made and sold by Bristol-Myers Squib, under the name CeeNU, until 2013 when they sold lomustine to a small company, NextSource, that most people never heard of. Bristol-Myers Squib sold CeeNU for about $50 per capsule at the time they sold it to NextSource.

Even though the patent is no longer protected, no one has yet to begin making a generic version of lomustine. Since NextSource bought the medication in 2013, they evidently believe they can play with the ‘big boys’ in the drug world and began jacking up the price of lomustine, which they re-branded as Gleostine. From $50 per pill for the strongest dose in 2013, NextSource is now charging $768 per pill, an increase of 1,536% in four years.

One news source reported:

“According to an analysis done for the Journal by Truveen Health Analytics and Elsevier, NextSource this year raised prices for the drug, which it rebranded as Gleostine, by 12 percent in November following a 20 percent increase in August.”

“NextSource CEO Robert DiCrisci, told the Journal that the company sets its prices based on the costs it incurred in developing the medication and the benefits it provides patients. Like other drugmakers, the company provides discounts and financial assistance to those who can’t afford its cost. A spokesperson for NextSource didn’t respond to an email requesting comment for this story.”

“Henry S. Friedman, a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine, accused NextSource of ‘price-gouging’ in an interview with the Journal, adding: ‘People are not going to be able to afford it, or they’re going to pay a lot of money and have financial liability’.”

According to the American Cancer Society, there was an estimated 8,260 NEW cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the United States this past year. Of those, 3,610 were in females and 4,650 cases were in males. In 2017, there were about 1,070 people that died from Hodgkin’s lymphoma (440 females and 630 males. The average age of diagnosis is 39 but the risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma begins rising at age 55 and old.

As for the survivability rate for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the ACS states:

“Survival rates have improved in the past few decades, largely due to advances in treatment. The 5-year relative survival rate for all patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma is now about 86%, and the 10-year relative survival rate is about 80%. Certain factors such as the stage (extent) of Hodgkin lymphoma and a person’s age affect these rates.”

However, the survivability rate for Hodgkin’s lymphoma could begin to drop as the price of the medication climbs higher than many people can afford to pay. The only hope is that in many cases of Hodgkin’s lymphoma or brain and intracranial tumor treatment, the recommended dose of lomustine is either 100mg/m2 or 130mg/m2 once every 6 weeks. Even then, $768 every 6 weeks for many average working families is like trying to pay 2 extra mortgage payments every 3 months, and considering what else these patients are going through, coming up with over $1,500 every 3 months is impossible.

So, what do they do if they can’t afford the drug and can’t afford not to take it?

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