A Radical Shift in Pricing Cancer Drugs?

Cancer drugs have become extraordinarily expensive even though many provide little benefit. Shouldn't prices reflect benefits?

"Cancer drugs aren't just really expensive; they're a bad value."

That stunning headline is from a Washington Post article. The author is Carolyn Johnson.

She writes, "With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month, doctors have begun to ask one nagging question: Do drug prices correctly reflect the value they bring to patients by extending or improving their lives?" The short answer is that many cancer drugs do not. That comment will not surprise regular readers of my book Cracking Health Costs.

Further: "'Currently, the prices of cancer drugs are increasing, and the prices are not linked to the benefit that the drug provides,' Daniel Goldstein, an oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University who led the study, said in an e-mail."

Goldstein suggests: "We propose that drugs that provide a minimal benefit should have a low price, while drugs that provide a major benefit should have a high price."

Makes sense.


Tom Emerick

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Tom Emerick

Tom Emerick is president of Emerick Consulting and cofounder of EdisonHealth and Thera Advisors.  Emerick’s years with Wal-Mart Stores, Burger King, British Petroleum and American Fidelity Assurance have provided him with an excellent blend of experience and contacts.


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