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Cancer – Unpronounceable Drugs, Incomprehensible Prices | Forbes

Differences in clinical outcomes in some cases might explain this pricing paradox, but the two drugs have not been directly compared.  Anyway, the FDA says Xalkori, not Zykadia, is the first choice for this subgroup of lung cancer patients.  Zykadia is for what experts call ‘second line treatment’.  The response rates, a measure of the drug’s effectiveness, seem about the same.  Side effects are hard to compare, but  a number of them occur more often with Zykadia – both the minor ones and the life threatening ones.

So, we’re left with only one explanation that actually fits the data, and it’s mine.  The pricing of Zykadia has nothing to do with what it took to bring it to market, it has to do with when it came on the market.  Today’s tolerance for high drug prices is just greater than it was three years ago and much greater than it was a decade ago when the median price of cancer drugs was about $5,000 per month (in today’s dollars).

This rapid rise in prices has put cancer drugs near the top of the list of growth categories in healthcare spending.

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Cancer – Unpronounceable Drugs, Incomprehensible Prices.

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