Cancer diagnosis corporate price gouging

This 19 February 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Cancer Drug Price Raised 1400%

Doctors are accusing this drug company of “price gouging”. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, the hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“The cost of a vital cancer drug has gone up 15-fold in four years after its new owner hiked prices on nine separate occasions. Lomustine has been used to treat brain tumours, lung cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma for more than 40 years but is now seen by some patients as too expensive.

In 2013, production of the drug, which was previously called CeeNU, passed from pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb to a Miami-based startup called NextSource Biotechnology. At that point it was being sold for around $50 a capsule. The same dose now costs $768 (£570).

NextSource has increased the price nine times in less than five years. A 20 per cent hike in August was followed by a further 12 per cent rise in November, according to analysis by the Wall Street Journal. Prices of other doses of the drug, which the company has renamed Gleostine, have also been increased exponentially.

Although the patent for lomustine has expired, there is no generic version being produced and so NextSource has no competitors to discourage it from raising prices. Professor Henry Friedman, a neuro-oncologist at Duke University, said: “This is simply price gouging. People are not going to be able to afford it, or they’re going to pay a lot of money and have financial liability.”

Read more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, by Rinke van den Brink, today:

The price of a medical isotope used for the detection of various cancers has suddenly been sharply increased by the German supplier, from 61,000 to 160,000 euros per unit. These are generators with the germanium radioactive element. That decays through a natural process to gallium-68. The latter substance is used to detect certain tumors and especially their metastases.

The price increase of the generators with germanium has been implemented with immediate effect. Supplier Eckert & Ziegler

According to Wikipedia, the origin of Eckert & Ziegler was a scientific cancer institute in the former German Democratic Republic. After German reunification, this was privatised into a for-profit corporation. Eckert & Ziegler was criticized for unjustly sacking employees and for radiation in its surroundings.

did not announce the price increase, says Marcel Stokkel, head of nuclear medicine at the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital.

Earlier this week, it was announced that pharmaceutical corporation Novartis is asking nearly six times more for Lutathera – Novartis’ variant of the radioactive medicine lutetium octreotate – than the three hospitals that make the drug in their pharmacy for their own patients.

Almost half a million euros

The Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (AvL) uses four generators of germanium every year. “One barrel is enough for about three or four months, but the strength of the medical isotope is declining in time.” A barrel is enough for diagnostics of about three hundred patients, and every year we have twelve hundred patients who are eligible for this form of diagnostics”, says Stokkel.

“This price increase will cost us almost half a million euros extra, just in the AvL only.”

Gallium-68 is used for the detection of rare neuroendocrine tumors (NET) and their metastases. These are tumors in the endocrine system that regulates the release of hormones that control all kinds of organs. Gallium-68 is also used to find prostate cancer and metastases.

USA: Ardent foe of socialized medicine Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is planning to undergo hernia surgery in Canada, where medical care is publicly funded and universally provided.

Drug manufacturers began the new year with a new round of price hikes for already highly expensive US-branded prescription drugs: here.

American horror story. Elderly husband kills wife, then himself, in desperation over skyrocketing healthcare costs: here.

11 thoughts on “Cancer diagnosis corporate price gouging

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