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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Years of Paying Dangerously

Two reality-based doctors in The Journal of Oncology Practice are urging their fellow oncologists to advocate for a single-payer universal health insurance system, calling it a "moral and ethical obligation" to their patients.  "Life is short, especially for some patients with cancer; they need help now."

The docs cite appalling stats: a study showing that pharmaceutical companies charge 50 percent more in the U.S. than in Europe for the same drugs, with much of the difference coming from marketing outlays and a 20 percent profit margin. Oncology drugs are often the most ruinously expensive: the median cost of a new drug has risen to $10,000 a month since 2010. Unlike the Department of Veterans Affairs, which gets a 40 percent discount on medication by buying in bulk, Medicare is legally forbidden to negotiate drug prices.

Docs and researchers involved in cancer treatment have begun speaking out,  pointing out "that charging high prices for a medicine needed to keep someone alive is profiteering, akin to jacking up the prices of essential goods after a natural disaster."      

The market-driven approach to cancer care and medicine in general is an epic fail, according to the authors of the Journal of Oncology Practice editorial, Ray Derasga and Lawrence Einhorn: "Years of private-sector solutions have failed. There needs to be a major paradigm shift in our approach to funding healthcare in the U.S."   (h/t MedPage Today) --  B.B.

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