Global Disparity Found in Worldwide Cancer Drug Retail Prices

The highest retail prices for 23 different cancer drugs was found in the United States.

Significant differences exist in the cost of cancer drugs between countries, a pilot study revealed.

The study found that the highest retail prices for 23 different cancer drugs was in the United States, with the lowest in South Africa and India. However, most notably, once monthly drug prices were expressed as a percentage of domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity (GDPcapPPP), cancer drugs were found less affordable in low income countries.

The findings were presented at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“This study provides a glimpse into prices and affordability of cancer drugs around the world and sets the stage for further research,” said lead study author Daniel A. Goldstein, MD. “However, the implications of our findings are limited because we were not able to take discounts and rebates into account, which would better predict drug affordability.”

During the study, researchers calculated the monthly drug costs for 15 generic and 8 patented cancer drugs that treat a variety of cancer types and stages.

Researchers predominately used government websites to find the retail drug prices in Australia, China, Israel, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States. The GDPcapPPP data was collected from the International Monetary Fund to estimate the affordability of each drug.

The results of the study found that the median monthly retail price for patented drugs ranged from $1515 in India to $8694 in the United States. The median monthly retail price for generic drugs was found to be the highest in the United States at $654 and the lowest in South Africa and India, at $120 and $159, respectively.

Cancer drugs appeared to be the most affordable in Australia, with generic monthly drug prices of 3% of GDPcapPPP and 71% for patented drugs. Countries with the lowest affordability were China, with generic monthly prices of 48% of GDPcapPPP and 288% for patented drugs, and India, with 33% for generics and 313% for patented drugs.

In the United States, generic prices were 14% OF GDPcapPPP and 192% of GDPcapPPP for patented drugs. The study is one of the largest analyses of the differences in cancer drug prices worldwide.

Limitations of the study were that researchers did not take into account the differing health insurance systems among the different countries.