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Speculation with cancer: 600,000 euros in drugs to live another month?

Speculation with cancer: 600,000 euros in drugs to live another month?

By Miguel Jara

Alfonso Simon, the author of the report, tells us that a study by the consulting firm QuintilesIMS indicates that precisely theoncology (along with autoimmune diseases and diabetes) will be the main growth engines for the pharmaceutical industry in the world. The area of ​​oncology will grow at a rate of health spending between 9% and 12% annually until 2021, reaching between 120,000 and 135,000 million worldwide.

Simón offers interesting data from the analysis of the best-selling drug from each of the 20 largest laboratories in the world:

in five cases, their highest-income drug is cancer therapy. This is the case of the Swiss pharmaceutical companyRoche, withAvastin (6,251 million euros, with data for the 2016 financial year). In the case of this company, it has found in its innovative cancer therapies (such asMabthera YHerceptin) a huge source of resources ”.

The antitumorGlivec also becomes the best seller (2,953 million) ofNovartisVelcadefor the japaneseTakeda YRevlimid forCelgene. Also to treat cancer isOpvid, from the laboratoryBristol-Myers Squibb which is the one that has grown the most in the past year, 400%.

It is clear that the current way of dealing with cancer is being very profitable for industries. That would be nothing special if it weren't for the inflated prices of these drugs and jeopardizing the financing of health systems.

In another interesting report, statements from my friend are collectedGerman Velasquez, a world benchmark in public health, who has held senior positions for more than two decades in theWorld Health Organization (WHO):

Of the 71 anticancer drugs released by the FDA (US drug agency) between 2002 and 2014, 90% cost more than $ 100,000. " As this health economist argues, the majority of the world's citizens "cannot afford those prices" andfor many health systems they are unsustainable.

WHO data indicate that in the last decade the prices of cancer drugs have doubled, now assuming between 6,000 euros and 10,000 euros per month. Sources of that organization cited in that text say that the most recent treatments for cancer can cost between 50,000 and "well over 150,000 dollars a year."

But how much does it cost to produce them? Because if it is very expensive to manufacture them, those prices could have some justification.

There is a precedent in the case ofsofosbuvir, active principle ofSovaldi drug, used forhepatitis C, which two or three years ago starred in the first great scandal.

A twelve-week treatment has a price between 68 and 136 dollars, that is, between 57 and 115 euros, while the multinationalGilead (the same one that profited from the Tamiflu, one of the biggest health scams in history), requires € 25,000 per treatment! in Spain (initially 60,000) and in the USA it sells it for over $ 80,000.

And is there an example applied to cancer treatments? A study coordinated byAndrew Hill, a researcher at the University of Liverpool, comes toa similar conclusion in the case of Imatinib, treatment used for patients with leukemia. He has calculated that making a generic drug from it can cost between $ 128 and $ 216.

Novartis It sells it in the United States under the name ofGleevec (Glivec in Europe) at $ 108,000. And in our country, the health system pays 30,000 euros for this preparation.

It is not the only case, in this work more examples are exposed and it is concluded that many drugs for cancer could be produced for between 128 and 4,020 euros instead of paying prices for them of between 75,161 and 139,138 dollars.

But if serious is this speculation by pharmaceutical companies (andgovernments that allow it because in cases of a public health emergency, thedrug patent) With the price of these drugs and the illness of so many people, it seems more serious to me that even those drugs are not effective.

In his workEfficiency of cancer treatments for solid tumors in Spain, the pharmacoeconomistItziar Oyagüez He compared prices of drugs used in advanced cancers and reviews a combined drug treatment that costs more than 600,000 euros and that only made the sick person who received it have one more month to live!

And we do not go into it for obvious reasons, it is a month in whichyou will not be able to enjoy life (The side effects of the drug cocktail will most likely prevent it). I understand that each person has an infinite value, but isn't it evident that they are speculating about it, playing with the fear that we all have of death and cancer in particular?

Miguel Jara


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