martes, 30 de junio de 2015
The High Cost of Care Is Driving Cancer Patients to Bankruptcy NBC
Lauren Baumann is one of the lucky ones.
Though she has cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, it is manageable, as long as she takes a daily pill called Gleevec. Gleevec is considered a wonder drug, turning Lauren's leukemia from a death sentence to a disease she and thousands of others can live with. The problem is, even with health insurance and a full-time job, Lauren can't afford the monthly co-pay for Gleevec. It can be as high as $2,000 a month — twice the average mortgage payment in the U.S.
"I feel like you get punished," says Baumann. "I didn't ask to get cancer; I didn't ask to get sick. I was 26 and I was perfectly healthy."
Now 30, this single mom of 9-year-old Aubrey has scrambled almost every month for the last four years looking for help to pay her medical bills.
"It's embarrassing. I do have a job; I do make money and I still have to call and beg."
Baumann, who lives in Kentucky, has reached out to churches, charities, and even Gleevec's manufacturer Novartis for assistance, always motivated by her determination to see her daughter grow up.
"On days I feel like I can't go on anymore or don't have any fight left in me, all I have to do is look at her and she is my why. She is my reason."
And that is why she is furious at the cost of Gleevec, which she must take for life to manage her chronic form of leukemia. The wholesale price has tripled since it came on the market in 2001, rising from $2,624 a month to $9,210.
Gleevec is now a nearly $5 billion-a-year drug for Novartis.
Dr. Peter Bach, director of Memorial Sloan Kettering's Center for Health Policy and Outcomes in New York, says Gleevec is one example of a cancer drug market that in his words is "utterly broken."
The shortest answer to why cancer drugs are so expensive, said Bach, is "because they can be." (...)
In the last five years, 15 new cancer drugs entered the market with price tags of $10,000 or more.
Bach says things must change. He wants to tie price to performance
Drug companies should be more pro-active in finding patients like Ms. Baumann who cannot afford their medications and help them BEFORE it becomes big news on national TV. That means not selling the PILL, but a personalized "concierge" service to patients -- especially those who are shelling out high co-pays for their drugs. Like an investment manager who asks about your income and long-term goals before investing your money, pharma needs to pro-actively determine the economic status of patients who take their prescribed medications and automatically enroll qualified patients in their much ballyhooed "patient assistance programs" (PAPs). There should people inside pharma whose job is to do this and to assist people through the process. That's what I call "patient centricity," which is only a buzzword today.
If Novartis was pro-active and discovered Lauren's problem - and fixed it - before NBC News did, they could have told a much different story about Lauren and Aubrey. How their journey did NOT include selling their house and moving in with elderly grandma. How Lauren and Aubrey survived with dignity and thrived economically thanks to Novartis.
Instead, the industry continues to defend high prices using the same old argument - it supports research. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Nobody cares! That's not a human interest story! There's no Aubrey in that story!
(*) Pharmaguy™ (@pharmaguy) is a "constructive critic" of the pharmaceutical industry.
Alegaciones de Novartis al defender patente de Gleevec: "sham"...*