Welcome to the Week in Review.

The Financial Burden of Cancer Medications

Common cancer treatments hit the market with exorbitant list prices that typically increase faster than the rate of inflation – placing a severe financial strain on patients. Between 2019 and 2023 55 percent of new cancer drugs were launched with a price exceeding $200,000 annually and nearly 60 percent of working-age cancer survivors report facing some financial difficulty due to costs associated with their disease. This forces many patients to cut back on essentials like groceries, skip mortgage payments, and incur massive debt to afford their medication. Gwendolyn, a grandmother living with cervical cancer, shared with the Wall Street Journal how her expensive treatment left her unable to afford basic necessities like toothpaste or toilet paper. The financial burden has been particularly heavy for cancer patients on Medicare, who have often paid a percentage of these high list prices out-of-pocket, which can add up to thousands of dollars. However, the new $2,000 yearly cap on out-of-pocket costs, set to take effect in 2025 under the Inflation Reduction Act, will drastically reduce costs for people who get a brand-name cancer drug through Medicare Part D. P4AD’s Cancer Report, estimates an average saving of $7,590 annually and up to $19,296 in some cases. While the drug price law marks significant progress to lower out-of-pocket costs, continued legislative action is needed to curb drug companies’ ability to set excessively high launch prices for new cancer treatments and other conditions. — (ReutersKFFThe Wall Street JournalIQVIAP4AD

Patent Abuse Drives Up Costs For Young Patients

The exorbitant prices of brand-name drugs in the United States are due in part to the anti-competitive tactics used by pharmaceutical companies to extend their monopoly pricing power and obstruct cheaper generics and biosimilars from entering the market. Drug prices in the U.S. are three to eight times higher than in other comparable nations, and with approximately 53 percent of young adults in the U.S. living with a chronic condition, the financial burden is extended over a lifetime. Sneha Dave, the executive director of Generation Patient, told Think Global Health that the decisions young people with chronic conditions make “are very much centered around our ability to afford medications into the future.” Comprehensive patent reform to close these loopholes is crucial to inject true competition and provide relief for young people who will spend their lives not only managing their conditions but dealing with the financial burden of paying for their medications. P4ADNOW is continuing to push for the passage of bipartisan legislation to curb anti-competitive practices and increase competition, ultimately lowering drug prices for all patients. — (Fierce PharmaCommonwealth FundCDCThink Global HealthP4ADNOW)

Price Watch!

Starting tomorrow, June 1st, out-of-pocket costs for inhaler products manufactured by AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim will be capped at $35 a month, thanks to pressure from advocates and lawmakers. GlaxoSmithKline’s $35 monthly out-of-pocket cap on inhalers will take effect on January 1, 2025, while Teva, the last of the four major inhaler companies, has not yet chosen to follow suit and reduce costs for patients.