"FACT: CANCER DRUGS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE AND NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD THEM! Just check out some price tags in this link @ GOODRX.com"
According to reports, pharmaceutical donation and reuse programs are distinct prescription drug programs providing for unused prescription drugs to be donated and re-dispensed to patients since 1997. -- but the operative term here is UNUSED. Once a drug touches the home and the hands of a consumer, the value, safety and guarantee of that drug for its intended function DISAPPEARS (see complete details below/ Plan B).
FRAMING THE KIRBY PROJECT: LOOKING FOR THE "WIN-WIN"
Recently, I reached out to Cheri Ambrose, president of Male Breast Cancer Coalition and top partner of the NY Cancer Resource Alliance and Dr. Robert Bard (NY CancerScan Center) who were very supportive of my idea and were willing to help me explore the imbalance of all this. We brainstormed at how to appeal to the decisionmakers at the pharma companies and (hopefully) bring them onto our side. We looked into the many legal parameters and even searched for the right legislators to help build an awareness platform that might help leverage change from the top down. It was clear that we were going to need a lot more friends to make a dent at this. A sensible first base was to connect with all the community groups and cancer foundation leaders or anyone in a leadership role who recognizes this economic dilemma and "the real price of cancer".
WHY CAN'T WE REUSE EXPENSIVE (UNUSED) DRUGS?
In a series of panel discussions to explore opportunities to address the astronomical cost of cancer medication, we kept returning to a plan of SUSTAINABILITY. We explored the policy of re-purposing, re-selling or donating what is commonly identified as USED, UNWANTED or SURPLUS DRUGS. Unfortunately, this raised many safety concerns of potential injury to the end user from countless means (ie. malicious drug tampering or accidental contamination). https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/tylenol-murders-1982
- Only professionally-designated persons are allowed to make a donation. Some states do allow individuals patients to donate directly. Pills in opened or partly used bottles are never accepted. Old drugs are never accepted. Expiration dates must be visible, and often at least six months later than the date of donation.
- Commonly, donated drugs must be delivered to a specific type of medical or pharmacy facility. Some may require the donor to sign a form or waiver.
- Financial compensation or payment to the donor is usually prohibited. Donations may be tax-deductible if paid for by the individual patient and taxpayer. Beyond donation programs, patients and other individuals may not sell any prescription drugs; such transactions are strictly regulated by State Boards of Pharmacy and other state and federal laws.
QUESTIONING HIGH-COST DRUGS
Excerpted from "The Cost of Oncology Drugs: A Pharmacy Perspective, Part I"
The cost of cancer care is the most rapidly increasing component of U.S. health care spending and will increase from $125 billion in 2010 to an estimated $158 billion in 2020, a 27% increase.3 Most experts agree that the current escalation of costs is unsustainable and, if left unchecked, will have a devastating effect on the quality of health care and an increasing negative financial impact on individuals, businesses, and government. However, that discussion is outside the scope of this article.
Charles Moertel and colleagues published a landmark trial 25 years ago, which reported that treatment with fluorouracil and levamisole for 1 year decreased the death rate of patients with stage C (stage III) colon cancer by 33% following curative surgery.7 Although this trial was clinically significant, there was as much discussion about the high cost of levamisole (Ergamisol) tablets as there was about its clinical benefit for patients.
In a 1991 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Rossof and colleagues questioned the high cost of the levamisole in the treatment regimen. Rossof and colleagues were surprised at the drug’s price on approval, about $5 for each tablet, and detailed their concerns on how this price was determined. “On the basis of the cost to a veterinarian, the calculated cost of a hypothetical 50-mg tablet should be in the range of 3 to 6 cents,” they argued. The total cost to the patient of 1 year of treament was nearly $1,200. Their conclusion was that “…the price chosen for the new American consumer is far too high and requires justification by the manufacturer.” A reply from Janssen Pharmaceutica, the drug’s manufacturer, offered many justifications for the price.8 According to the company, Ergamisol was supplied free to 5,000 research patients prior to FDA approval. It was also given for free to indigent patients... The cost of levamisole was $1,200 per year in 1991, and after adjustment for inflation would cost about $1,988 in 2015, or $166 per month. If these prices caused outrage in 1990, it is easy to see how current prices of well over $10,000 per month for therapies, which often render small clinical benefits, can seem outrageous by comparison.
See this complete report on NIH/PubMed
By: Lorraine S. Davi (San Francisco, CA)
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