Pharmaceutical companies have always had the same response when faced with complaints about the high cost of their drugs. They cite the long, costly and fraught drug development cycle -- and the high failure rate of a necessarily inefficient model. The companies alone bear the cost of all that futility. When they finally have a hit -- a drug that's effective -- they must recover not just money for that drug's development, but the costs of all the failures on the road to success.
But the increase in prices for cancer drugs has been exorbitant even given this rationale, according to patients, insurance companies and doctors. Now a hundred oncologists are supporting a petition aimed at the Secretary of Health and Human Services to demand lower cancer drug prices from Big Pharma so "all patients with cancer have access to affordable drugs to save their lives." Some of the statistics cited are eye-popping, including a "tenfold increase" in prices since 2000 and a $120,000 a year average cost for a new cancer drug regimen.
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