Monday, March 07, 2016

Are oversized doses of cancer drugs causing $$$ waste?

Writing in Forbes, Mar 3, 2016, John LaMattina says Memorial Sloan-Kettering physician Peter Bach, MD, has been on the warpath about overpriced cancer drugs.

He was a leader in getting the new drug Zaltrap lowered in price to be equivalent to the equally effective Avastin.

Now, Bach is after the practice of packaging some drugs in single-dose vials that contain more than the average dose per person. This increases leftover drugs, which translates into--WASTED MONEY if you did not have a larger body size and require more of the drug.

About $2.8 billion in waste per year. Up to a third of cancer drugs may be trashed.

Once opened, these vials cannot be used for another patient. Benefit? The drug company.

But also benefit the doctor. Physicians operate under "buy and bill" with cancer drugs--the docs and hospitals buy the drugs and bill the insurance companies. They make more if more expensive large doses are purchased.

But would requiring smaller dose packages save money? Not if cheaper drugs are just as effective as in the Zaltrap case.

If manufacturers produced different levels of dosage--it also would probably not lower cost.

So now what?

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