This just in from Breast Cancer Action, a member of Prescription Access Litigation’s coalition of 130+ consumer advocacy organizations. The pricing of cancer drugs is one of the most troubling trends in the world of prescription drugs. This press release points out that the price today of these drugs is what’s important, not some arbitrary notion of “effective cost,” which seems more like an actuarial notion than a principle that should guide patients’ and doctors’ choices regarding medications.


Mary DeLucco mdelucco@bcaction.org 415-243-9301, ext. 16

Breast Cancer Action Says Two New Drug Pricing Studies Miss the Mark

San Francisco, CA (June 26, 2007) — Breast Cancer Action (BCA) today expressed grave concerns about two new studies that purport to justify the exorbitantly high price of breast cancer drugs.

One of the studies looked at Herceptin –a drug that costs upwards of $40,000 a year. The other study looked at Aromasin – an aromatase inhibitor that costs more than $3000 per year in the United States.

Both studies measured “cost effectiveness” in terms of the number of years each drug prolonged life, combined with the quality of life. This “cost effectiveness” measure was used to estimate the cost of the drugs over a patient’s lifetime. Based on this equation, researchers said the “effective” cost of the drugs was much less than the actual purchase price.

But BCA says that the “effective” cost is a meaningless concept to individual breast cancer patients, and points out that both studies were funded and — in the case of the Herceptin study partially staffed — by the companies that make the drugs.

“The bottom line is that Herceptin still costs at least $40,000 a year in the United States,” says BCA Executive Director Barbara A. Brenner. “The cost of these cancer drugs will not be reduced to reflect the ‘effective cost’ detailed in these studies. The ‘projected lifetime costs’ are meaningless to patients who have to pay for these drugs today.”

Brenner also points out that studies like these will prove most useful for pharmaceutical companies by encouraging insurance firms to pay the very high prices the drug companies are charging.

The fact that these drugs cost thousands of dollars is more evidence of the need for the United States to work toward a universal health care system that would allow the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices.

Breast Cancer Action (www. bcaction.org) is a national grassroots education and advocacy organization that carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the breast cancer epidemic.

Since 1998, BCA has refused to accept funds from corporations that may create a real or apparent conflict of interest for BCA. Corporations covered by this policy include pharmaceutical companies.