Activism Discussion: Company Raises Price Of 60-year-old Cancer Drug By 607%, Stunning Doctors

Company Raises Price Of 60-year-old Cancer Drug By 607%, Stunning Doctors
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Daves
2006-03-11 15:32:11 EST
New York Times
March 12, 2006
A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Disturbs Doctors and Patients
By ALEX BERENSON

On Feb. 3, Joyce Elkins filled a prescription for a two-week supply of
nitrogen mustard, a decades-old cancer drug used to treat a rare form
of lymphoma. The cost was $77.50.

On Feb. 17, Ms. Elkins, a 64-year-old retiree who lives in Georgetown,
Tex., returned to her pharmacy for a refill. This time, following a
huge increase in the wholesale price of the drug, the cost was
$548.01.

Ms. Elkins's insurance does not cover nitrogen mustard, which she must
take for at least the next six months, at a cost that will now total
nearly $7,000. She and her husband, who works for the Texas Department
of Transportation, are paying for the medicine by spending less on
utilities and food, she said.

The increase has stunned doctors, who say it starkly illustrates two
trends in the pharmaceutical industry: The soaring price of cancer
medicines and the tendency for those prices to have little relation to
the cost of developing or making the drugs.

Genentech, for example, has indicated it will effectively double the
price of its colon cancer drug Avastin, to about $100,000, when
Avastin's use is expanded to breast and lung cancer patients. As with
Avastin, nothing about nitrogen mustard is changing but the price.

"Nitrogen mustard has been around forever," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld,
the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
"There's nothing that I am aware of in the treatment environment that
I am aware of that would explain an increase in the cost of the drug."

Nitrogen mustard, also known as Mustargen, was developed more than 60
years ago and is among the oldest chemotherapy drugs. For decades, it
has been blended into an ointment by pharmacists and used as a topical
treatment for a cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare form
of cancer that mainly affects the skin.

And once a company sets a price, government agencies, private
insurers, and patients have little choice but to pay it. The Food &
Drug Administration does not regulate prices, and Medicare is banned
from considering price in deciding whether to cover treatments.

<snip>

Many patients who rely on expensive drugs are stuck in a bind. Don
Schare of Saratoga, Calif., said he paid $1,260 last month for 200
grams of nitrogen mustard cream, about 10 times what he paid for his
prior prescription. Mr. Schare, 69, said he was covered by the new
Medicare Part D drug program as well as supplemental insurance from
AARP, but that neither of his plans covered Mustargen.

"It's an obscene gesture on the company's part to raise something by a
factor of 10," Mr. Schare said.

Jeffrey Malavasic, 58, a retired railroad worker in Florence, Ore.,
said he had decided to fill only half of his Mustargen prescription
when he learned of the price increase. He used the drug sparingly in
the past and will be even more frugal, he said...

Lostparts
2006-03-11 16:05:19 EST

"daves" <daves@ae45t.be> wrote in message
news:isc612l2mt7dtr8fni75g4g7hjq96u2m4f@4ax.com...
: New York Times
: March 12, 2006
: A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Disturbs Doctors and Patients
: By ALEX BERENSON
:
: On Feb. 3, Joyce Elkins filled a prescription for a two-week supply of
: nitrogen mustard, a decades-old cancer drug used to treat a rare form
: of lymphoma. The cost was $77.50.
:
: On Feb. 17, Ms. Elkins, a 64-year-old retiree who lives in Georgetown,
: Tex., returned to her pharmacy for a refill. This time, following a
: huge increase in the wholesale price of the drug, the cost was
: $548.01.
:
: Ms. Elkins's insurance does not cover nitrogen mustard, which she must
: take for at least the next six months, at a cost that will now total
: nearly $7,000. She and her husband, who works for the Texas Department
: of Transportation, are paying for the medicine by spending less on
: utilities and food, she said.
:
: The increase has stunned doctors, who say it starkly illustrates two
: trends in the pharmaceutical industry: The soaring price of cancer
: medicines and the tendency for those prices to have little relation to
: the cost of developing or making the drugs.
:
: Genentech, for example, has indicated it will effectively double the
: price of its colon cancer drug Avastin, to about $100,000, when
: Avastin's use is expanded to breast and lung cancer patients. As with
: Avastin, nothing about nitrogen mustard is changing but the price.
:
: "Nitrogen mustard has been around forever," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld,
: the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
: "There's nothing that I am aware of in the treatment environment that
: I am aware of that would explain an increase in the cost of the drug."
:
: Nitrogen mustard, also known as Mustargen, was developed more than 60
: years ago and is among the oldest chemotherapy drugs. For decades, it
: has been blended into an ointment by pharmacists and used as a topical
: treatment for a cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare form
: of cancer that mainly affects the skin.
:
: And once a company sets a price, government agencies, private
: insurers, and patients have little choice but to pay it. The Food &
: Drug Administration does not regulate prices, and Medicare is banned
: from considering price in deciding whether to cover treatments.
:
: <snip>
:
: Many patients who rely on expensive drugs are stuck in a bind. Don
: Schare of Saratoga, Calif., said he paid $1,260 last month for 200
: grams of nitrogen mustard cream, about 10 times what he paid for his
: prior prescription. Mr. Schare, 69, said he was covered by the new
: Medicare Part D drug program as well as supplemental insurance from
: AARP, but that neither of his plans covered Mustargen.
:
: "It's an obscene gesture on the company's part to raise something by a
: factor of 10," Mr. Schare said.
:
: Jeffrey Malavasic, 58, a retired railroad worker in Florence, Ore.,
: said he had decided to fill only half of his Mustargen prescription
: when he learned of the price increase. He used the drug sparingly in
: the past and will be even more frugal, he said...

This kind of pharmaceutical industry shit is uncalled for think it's about
time for the government to regulate pharmaceutical industry. But won't
happen as long as there are lobbyist in Washington from Drug company's



Liberals Will Set You Free From The Nazis
2006-03-11 18:18:42 EST
These companies relaize they have only three more years to rob the American
People and they intend to take full advantage of the Republicons
collaboration

What did people think they were going to get when they elected criminals to
high office

fairness ? honesty ? decency ? Patriotism ?

or

Greed ? Selfishness ? Corruption ? Dishonesty ?

LMAO
"lostparts" <clem641@bellsouth.net> wrote in message
news:3VGQf.475$Tv6.253@bignews5.bellsouth.net...
>
> "daves" <daves@ae45t.be> wrote in message
> news:isc612l2mt7dtr8fni75g4g7hjq96u2m4f@4ax.com...
> : New York Times
> : March 12, 2006
> : A Cancer Drug's Big Price Rise Disturbs Doctors and Patients
> : By ALEX BERENSON
> :
> : On Feb. 3, Joyce Elkins filled a prescription for a two-week supply of
> : nitrogen mustard, a decades-old cancer drug used to treat a rare form
> : of lymphoma. The cost was $77.50.
> :
> : On Feb. 17, Ms. Elkins, a 64-year-old retiree who lives in Georgetown,
> : Tex., returned to her pharmacy for a refill. This time, following a
> : huge increase in the wholesale price of the drug, the cost was
> : $548.01.
> :
> : Ms. Elkins's insurance does not cover nitrogen mustard, which she must
> : take for at least the next six months, at a cost that will now total
> : nearly $7,000. She and her husband, who works for the Texas Department
> : of Transportation, are paying for the medicine by spending less on
> : utilities and food, she said.
> :
> : The increase has stunned doctors, who say it starkly illustrates two
> : trends in the pharmaceutical industry: The soaring price of cancer
> : medicines and the tendency for those prices to have little relation to
> : the cost of developing or making the drugs.
> :
> : Genentech, for example, has indicated it will effectively double the
> : price of its colon cancer drug Avastin, to about $100,000, when
> : Avastin's use is expanded to breast and lung cancer patients. As with
> : Avastin, nothing about nitrogen mustard is changing but the price.
> :
> : "Nitrogen mustard has been around forever," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld,
> : the deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
> : "There's nothing that I am aware of in the treatment environment that
> : I am aware of that would explain an increase in the cost of the drug."
> :
> : Nitrogen mustard, also known as Mustargen, was developed more than 60
> : years ago and is among the oldest chemotherapy drugs. For decades, it
> : has been blended into an ointment by pharmacists and used as a topical
> : treatment for a cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a rare form
> : of cancer that mainly affects the skin.
> :
> : And once a company sets a price, government agencies, private
> : insurers, and patients have little choice but to pay it. The Food &
> : Drug Administration does not regulate prices, and Medicare is banned
> : from considering price in deciding whether to cover treatments.
> :
> : <snip>
> :
> : Many patients who rely on expensive drugs are stuck in a bind. Don
> : Schare of Saratoga, Calif., said he paid $1,260 last month for 200
> : grams of nitrogen mustard cream, about 10 times what he paid for his
> : prior prescription. Mr. Schare, 69, said he was covered by the new
> : Medicare Part D drug program as well as supplemental insurance from
> : AARP, but that neither of his plans covered Mustargen.
> :
> : "It's an obscene gesture on the company's part to raise something by a
> : factor of 10," Mr. Schare said.
> :
> : Jeffrey Malavasic, 58, a retired railroad worker in Florence, Ore.,
> : said he had decided to fill only half of his Mustargen prescription
> : when he learned of the price increase. He used the drug sparingly in
> : the past and will be even more frugal, he said...
>
> This kind of pharmaceutical industry shit is uncalled for think it's about
> time for the government to regulate pharmaceutical industry. But won't
> happen as long as there are lobbyist in Washington from Drug company's
>
>



Jerry Okamura
2006-03-11 19:43:58 EST
Interesting posting. I wonder why there was no one from the pharmaceutical
companies that make the drug, to explain why the price increased so
dramatically? Did they ask, and no one wanted to comment, or did they
choose not to ask, so they could write the story to tell a "story"?

Another interesting aspect of this story is why isn't the prescription
covered by Medicare? That was something else left out of the story. What
was the governments response when asked why the nitrogen mustard was not
covered, or did the writers even ask the government?



Joan F \MI\
2006-03-12 15:19:24 EST
The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It subsidises
individual insurance plans which decide which drugs they will cover.

In news:i9KQf.12207$pV5.8751@tornado.socal.rr.com,
Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
| Interesting posting. I wonder why there was no one from the
| pharmaceutical companies that make the drug, to explain why the price
| increased so dramatically? Did they ask, and no one wanted to
| comment, or did they choose not to ask, so they could write the story
| to tell a "story"?
|
| Another interesting aspect of this story is why isn't the prescription
| covered by Medicare? That was something else left out of the story.
| What was the governments response when asked why the nitrogen mustard
| was not covered, or did the writers even ask the government?



Jerry Okamura
2006-03-12 17:01:30 EST
It doesn't? Who pays for this new prescription drug benefit?

"Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
news:pKCdnUTP0qjRH4nZnZ2dnUVZ_s6dnZ2d@giganews.com...
> The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It subsidises
> individual insurance plans which decide which drugs they will cover.
>
> In news:i9KQf.12207$pV5.8751@tornado.socal.rr.com,
> Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
> | Interesting posting. I wonder why there was no one from the
> | pharmaceutical companies that make the drug, to explain why the price
> | increased so dramatically? Did they ask, and no one wanted to
> | comment, or did they choose not to ask, so they could write the story
> | to tell a "story"?
> |
> | Another interesting aspect of this story is why isn't the prescription
> | covered by Medicare? That was something else left out of the story.
> | What was the governments response when asked why the nitrogen mustard
> | was not covered, or did the writers even ask the government?
>
>



Joan F \MI\
2006-03-12 21:09:18 EST
The government subsidizes it, that is it pays part, the individuals pay a
premium to the plan and co-pays for covered prescriptions.

In news:_S0Rf.12572$pV5.4783@tornado.socal.rr.com,
Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
| It doesn't? Who pays for this new prescription drug benefit?
|
| "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
| news:pKCdnUTP0qjRH4nZnZ2dnUVZ_s6dnZ2d@giganews.com...
|| The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It subsidises
|| individual insurance plans which decide which drugs they will cover.
||



Jerry Okamura
2006-03-13 13:26:52 EST
So, your orignal statement is not entirely correct?

"Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
news:mdSdnTjQx9nTSYnZRVn-gw@giganews.com...
> The government subsidizes it, that is it pays part, the individuals pay a
> premium to the plan and co-pays for covered prescriptions.
>
> In news:_S0Rf.12572$pV5.4783@tornado.socal.rr.com,
> Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
> | It doesn't? Who pays for this new prescription drug benefit?
> |
> | "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
> | news:pKCdnUTP0qjRH4nZnZ2dnUVZ_s6dnZ2d@giganews.com...
> || The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It subsidises
> || individual insurance plans which decide which drugs they will cover.
> ||
>
>



Sid9
2006-03-13 15:19:58 EST
Jerry Okamura wrote:
> So, your orignal statement is not entirely correct?
>
> "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
> news:mdSdnTjQx9nTSYnZRVn-gw@giganews.com...
>> The government subsidizes it, that is it pays part, the individuals
>> pay a premium to the plan and co-pays for covered prescriptions.
>>
>> In news:_S0Rf.12572$pV5.4783@tornado.socal.rr.com,
>> Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
>>> It doesn't? Who pays for this new prescription drug benefit?
>>>
>>> "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
>>> news:pKCdnUTP0qjRH4nZnZ2dnUVZ_s6dnZ2d@giganews.com...
>>>> The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It
>>>> subsidises individual insurance plans which decide which drugs
>>>> they will cover.


Medicare subscribers get a crumb.
Insurance companies,
HMOs
and pharmaceutical companies raid the US Treasury!


It's the Republican way!



Joan F \MI\
2006-03-13 16:48:32 EST
?????????? I don't see any inconsistency in my statements. The government
subsidises plans, that means it pays part of the cost. The plans are chosen
by individuals and most have a monthly premium and co-pays.

In news:MPiRf.15142$e1.11676@tornado.socal.rr.com,
Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
| So, your orignal statement is not entirely correct?
|
| "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
| news:mdSdnTjQx9nTSYnZRVn-gw@giganews.com...
|| The government subsidizes it, that is it pays part, the individuals
|| pay a premium to the plan and co-pays for covered prescriptions.
||
|| In news:_S0Rf.12572$pV5.4783@tornado.socal.rr.com,
|| Jerry Okamura <okamuraj005@hawaii.rr.com> stated
||| It doesn't? Who pays for this new prescription drug benefit?
|||
||| "Joan F (MI)" <jjfahl@removethisameritech.net> wrote in message
||| news:pKCdnUTP0qjRH4nZnZ2dnUVZ_s6dnZ2d@giganews.com...
|||| The government doesn't decide what drugs are covered. It
|||| subsidises individual insurance plans which decide which drugs
|||| they will cover.


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