Rising Costs of Cancer Drugs Shape Future of Treatments

Treatment & Doctors
Reading Time: 3 mins
Publication Date: 06/18/2012
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed

Asbestos.com is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us

Testimonials

"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Lashawn
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite Asbestos.com’s Article

APA

Hall, M. (2020, October 16). Rising Costs of Cancer Drugs Shape Future of Treatments. Asbestos.com. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/18/drugs-costs-future-cancer-treatment/

MLA

Hall, Mark. "Rising Costs of Cancer Drugs Shape Future of Treatments." Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/18/drugs-costs-future-cancer-treatment/.

Chicago

Hall, Mark. "Rising Costs of Cancer Drugs Shape Future of Treatments." Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/news/2012/06/18/drugs-costs-future-cancer-treatment/.

The increasing costs of cancer drugs is pushing cancer doctors to evaluate the treatments they recommend to patients, including those with mesothelioma.

Oncologists, doctors specializing in cancer diagnoses and treatments, are reconsideration drugs they recommend and are questioning the benefits of combined cancer therapies. Rising drug costs, smaller insurance reimbursement payments and more research showing the benefits of generic drugs are reasons for the widespread review by doctors, doctors told Reuters.

For mesothelioma patients who often depend on chemotherapy drugs and combined therapies, this shifting perspective by doctors may affect the treatment options that will be provided.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include Carboplatin, Cisplatin, Onconase, Pemetrexed and Gemcitabine.

Dealing with Rising Treatment Costs

Express Scripts, a company that handles prescription drug benefits for employers, estimates spending on cancer drugs will rise nearly 20 percent a year, reaching approximately $173 billion by 2020.

“Doctors are starting to realize that cost actually is important, especially when high quality can be obtained at a lower cost,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “That’s a transformation in medicine. I think that’s a good thing.”

To ensure proper care of patients while avoiding high-care costs, some oncologists said they do not consider nontraditional payment methods from insurers, including being paid for the time spent on patient care instead of treatment and drug costs.

This increases the amount of attention that each patient receives from their doctor.

One company that decided to lower costs yet increasing a focus on care is Wilshire Oncology Medical Group. It partnered with a health insurer and is now being paid primarily for patient care instead of receiving brand-name drugs with marked-up price tags.

Because of the traditional structure of insurance coverage and increasing treatment prices, doctors are often left on the hook with the financial burden.

At a recent American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, Dr. Linda Bosserman, president of Wilshire, said she noted the trend of drug company sales people visiting her office and leaving patient reimbursement coupons that cover co-pays of drugs with boosted costs.

“They say, we’ll just leave these and stick the payer with the cost,” she said. “But we are the payer.”

In certain cases, generic cancer drugs have been noted as being more effective to their brand-name counterparts, according to one research study through the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Mesothelioma Treatment Expenses

In some cases, patients get stuck with large treatment bills because insurance companies often cover just a fraction of the total expense.

The average mesothelioma chemotherapy costs about $7,000 but can be as much as $30,000. Surgery costs can reach $40,000.

If a patient needs combined treatments, expenses can soar.

Radiation therapy and experimental treatment options also exist but can cost thousands a month. Clinical trials offer inexpensive treatment opportunities and mesothelioma patients can find relevant studies through The Mesothelioma Center clinical trial list.

Insurance companies, doctors and patients all have a shared role in adjusting the way cancer treatment is considered and recent discussions of the problem open the door for real reform.

For example, Bosserman designates her goal as continuously sitting with drug manufacturers as new drugs come out and working to bring cancer drug prices down.

This potential change could bring relief to doctors and cancer patients alike.

Medically Reviewed by Top Mesothelioma Doctors
Free Mesothelioma Guide