Proposed Policy Intervention Plan Seeks to Lower Cancer Drug Cost

Proposal includes giving insurers the ability to withhold products from formularies if the cost of cancer drugs do not represent good value.

The cost of cancer fighting drugs are continuing to climb leaving many patients in a state of financial distress. In an effort to combat this issue, researchers have laid out a 3-part policy intervention to help slash the price tag for these drugs.

An editorial published in JAMA Oncology from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center laid out the proposed policy intervention plan.

The plan includes the ability for public and private health insurers to negotiate prices for medications with manufacturers; more transparency when it comes to drug pricing and better information for treatment options; and giving insurers the ability to withhold products from formularies if the cost of cancer drugs do not represent good value.

"The current model for cancer drug pricing is not sustainable and harms patients and families as well as our health care system," the authors wrote. "Solutions are possible that better balance access, affordability and incentives to innovate, but, by necessity, will create situations where low-value drugs are not available except outside of the insurance system. Whether society will accept that 'pain' for the gain of a more equitable and sustainable cancer drug market remains to be seen."

The study is part of an ongoing effort at the center to extensively analyze the financial impacts of cancer. It was reported that in 2013, patients who were diagnosed with cancer were 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than those who were not.

Last month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, it was published that cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy had a higher risk of death than those who had less financial distress. The risk was doubled for those diagnosed with certain types of cancer.