#LCSM Chat 4/23 8PM ET: Discussing the Role of the Cost of Cancer Therapies. Does Cost Limit Care?

Written by #LCSM Moderator Dr. H. Jack West

Earlier this week, I met a young women newly confronted with the terribly difficult news of a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. As we discussed the potential of finding a targeted mutation that could be treated by an oral targeted therapy, I mentioned that it typically takes several days to a couple of weeks to get approval and delivery of one of these agents, since they cost anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 per month in the US.  Though I reassured her that this treatment should be covered by her insurer if she has a driver mutation and that there are other mechanisms of assistance, I could see that she was nearly as worried about the potential challenges of the cost of this therapy for her and her family as she was in our discussions around the staging and diagnosis of her cancer.

Then yesterday, I was at a small meeting discussing novel immunotherapies for lung cancer, when the topic shifted from the current focus on individual agents, as currently approved or expected soon, and the future of immunotherapy. Several people agreed that the future is of combining immunotherapies.  Along with the potential promise of this strategy, I thought of the sobering prospect that a treatment that costs about $150,000/year could be replaced by a combination that costs twice that much. One member of the group noted that a pharmacist at his institution had calculated that the cost of the complete course of investigational therapy in a clinical trial they were developing would cost about $800,000.

Cancer is already about as distressing a situation as anyone could face. This week we’ll discuss the role of cost of therapies on a cancer patient, covering four key questions:

T1) Has the cost of cancer treatment directly limited your care or that of a patient, if you help care for patients?

T2) Has concern about the impact of cost on you or your family led to significant worry as a symptom to manage, on top of cancer?

T3) Given development costs & benefits these treatments can deliver to patients, are pharma companies justified in charging so much?

T4) Do you feel more attention to cost is justified to lead to change, or do you feel frustrated/angry to be a “hostage” in need?

Join us Thursday, April 23, 5 pm PT/8 pm ET as we discuss these questions and more.  Don’t forget to add the #LCSM hashtag to participate. This conversation is open to all! For more information on how to participate, read our #LCSM Chat Primer!

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