Gloves, the paper in the patient chart, a ball point pen to write notes in the metal doctors orders container, and I’m guessing we’d now be in about $200, If chemo worked, we’d have a valid argument that perhaps chemotherapy is worth $4,000 per infusion…but chemo statistics are dismal at best. Should price be commensurate with success in the pharmaceutical world? If it were, we’d see the stock market taking the biggest nosedive ever witnessed. Yet, I believe that many drugs work for four hours at a time, and therefore hold some value to takers and prescribers alike.
Whether or not a drug is safe has never been an acceptable argument in medical care. Why start now? Many, many drugs that are FDA approved were suddenly taken off of the market due to horrible and often deadly side effects. The opening sentence of the article I read stated that these new cancer drugs are “potentially lifesaving.” I don’t buy the word “potentially” when we are dealing with human lives. I mean, potentially alive means dead, just as certain as dirt is potentially clean. And now cancer drugs are potentially lifesaving? I wouldn’t bet my life on the “potential” of this new drug. Oncologists are correct here! Who knows better how miserable cancer patients are when taking these drugs and who better to assess whether or not a new one is worth $120,000 annually, than the doctors who see cancer drugs and cancer patients on a daily basis. This time, I’m with them!
My suggestion is this. Start with the base rate of a pill that works for people. Aspirin works for some people and it costs about $20 a bottle. Study the 5-year survival rates linked exclusively to your new cancer drug before selling it. If 10% are alive because of your new cancer drug, ad one zero to the base rate (10%, for example, becomes 100% by adding a zero) and it becomes a $40 per month new cancer drug. If 50% of cancer patients taking the new drugs are alive in 5 years, the cost will be $1000/month for your drug $20 base X 50). Then, incentivize anything beyond 50% and let the cancer patient decide the odds and the costs. A new cancer pill that has 90% of cancer patients alive at 5 years might cost a huge amount and one that effectively “cures” cancer might then cost, (and perhaps be worth) $10,000/month. A “potentially lifesaving” drug that costs $10,000 per month is “potentially absurd!”