Cancer drug, it seems, can cost just about anything depending on what part of Europe you’re roaming around. Latest reports show that drug prices are different all over Europe, and cheap in the UK.
The report is going to spark a debate on the cost of medication in this day and age and how it’s going a little topsy-turvy.
Research suggest that the US has the world’s most expensive drugs in terms of patented prescription medication. Reuters covered the US position as well in October when it highlighted that prices for two top selling drugs were over three times lower in Britain. Between countries, drug prices vary and they vary by a large margin i.e. the variation is around 92% between countries.
Actual prices of cancer drugs in the EU after discounts also varied by around 58%. The report showed that healthcare spending within the EU was around £37bn, and 33% of this goes to medication.
In Spain the actual price of a drug and its official price is different because of discounts. However, France and Netherlands have no actual difference from firms like Bristol-Myers Squibb or Roche. The issue at hand is that of equitable access, because some people will most certainly find themselves outside the net of coverage. And it makes no sense that medication costs differently depending on your geography.
The m edication in question is cancer medication, and if the numbers are anything to do by cancer is on the rise as a problem. It doesn’t help that every other report that comes out these days seems to point to something or the other that is literally giving people cancer. So the issue of equitable access is not a small one.
Researchers looked at the prices of 31 drugs in 2013 across 18 different countries, including New Zealand and Australia. Their findings suggested that prices were varied. For instance, taxpayers in Germany paid 223% more for medication that treats leukemia and melanoma, as compared to taxpayers in Greece. The study, which was published in The Lancet Oncology Journal, illustrated that Spain, Portugal, UK and Greece pay the smallest per unit amount for new drugs that are under patent, whereas, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany pay the most.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has also said that many new medications are not affordable at all and would be a burden on the state health system. Cancer drug prices are going up, and it’s a worrying trend.
Drug makers of course don’t see things this way. Often the high prices are defended with the excuse that reward is needed for novel drugs that can treat such a terrible disease. Of course, some developed countries have been able to come to agreements with manufacturers and bring the prices down, but these deals are generally confidential and not open to the masses.
While the research has some gaps due to the unavailability of data, it does shed some much needed light on the state of affairs of cancer medication, and the changes that are needed.