Cost of Cancer Drugs Expected to Rise by Between 6 and 9 Percent

The price of cancer medications is expected to increase by between 6 and 9 percent each year through 2021, pushing global spending on these drugs to more than $147 billion, according to a report from health-care research firm QuintilesIMS. This is an increase over previous years; the average growth rates were 3.6 percent in 2016 and 4.7 percent in 2015.

The report attributes the anticipated growth in spending and prices to the availability of new cancer drugs. The cost of oncology medications in the United States alone rose from $20.7 billion in 2011 to $44.1 billion in 2016, mainly a result of the proliferation of immunotherapies entering the market and “more favorable reimbursement policies among payers.”

Drugs released in the past 5 years account for more than 20 percent of the global market for oncology therapies. Despite this surge in new releases, growth rates in prices are not expected to hit double digits because of competitive pricing.

The report also found that access to cancer treatments is an issue that needs to be addressed: 42 new cancer medicines launched between 2011 and 2015, but more than half of those were launched in only eight countries.

Source: STAT News, June 1, 2017.