Cancer therapy prices prevent access to treatment, WHO says

In a 171 page report, the World Health Organization concluded that cancer medication prices are "impairing" the ability of governments to provide access to the potentially lifesaving treatments, STAT reports.

The report claims that drugmakers "set prices according to their commercial goals, with a focus on extracting the maximum amount that a buyer is willing to pay for a medicine."

This approach, WHO argues, often makes these medications unaffordable for the patient. Especially those without insurance.

Further, the report states that in 2017, three companies accounted for half the global market for cancer treatments, suggesting that individual companies hold a monopoly over various cancer treatment categories.

"The market structure of cancer medicines is characterized by imperfect competition," the report said.

Drugmakers often cite research and development costs as the reason for setting the price of medications so high, but the report states "evidence suggests prices bear little or no relationship to R&D costs, financial returns are high, potential impact on revenue due to lower prices could be offset by higher volume, and governments and nonprofits made substantial contributions to the R&D through direct funding and other incentives."

Read the full report here.


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