Study authors also found that pricing policy for covered drugs lacked transparency in these countries and called for a quick revamp of the system. Nevertheless, the study is limited because researchers were denied access to confidential data on some drugs that are discounted.
The findings were published amid a international outrage over pricing policies of big pharma groups and unprecedented price hikes for life-saving medications.
In New Zealand, a recent scandal revolved around the decision of the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (Pharmac), a lead entity that decides on behalf of local health panels which drugs would receive subsidies, to cut funding for the costly skin cancer drug Keytruda.
Pharmac recently said that it sees no point in the $30 million yearly cost and the $300,000 worth of treatment per patient during a two-year period. The agency deemed the drug’s price ridiculously expensive and urged the government to renegotiate the price with the drug maker if it wants all patients to have access to the drug.
Study authors found that lack of transparency in negotiation process made it difficult to compare prices in the country. But financial records showed that the government more than doubled cancer drug funding since 2012.
The study revealed that cancer drug prices often vary between 25 percent and nearly 400 percent between the 16 high-income European countries, New Zealand, and Australia. Study investigators said that they picked only the countries with comparable drug pricing systems.
The survey revealed that none of the surveyed cancer drugs had a lower price than $10 per unit. Unit prices were usually more than €1,000, but four drugs had unit prices ranging between €250 and €1,000.
Among the most expensive drug was plerixafor, which prepares blood for stem cell transplants in blood cancer patients, with a price of €5,824 per unit.
Reserachers also found that prices for the same drug greatly varied between the 18 countries. For instance, the unit price of gemcitabine, which costs €42.91 in Australia, was 388 percent greater in New Zealand, where the drug sold for €209.33 per unit.
The research showed that the countries with the lowest cancer drug prices are Spain, Portugal, the U.K., and Greece, while the most expensive countries are Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden.
Study authors noted that they obtained info on actual drug prices with great difficulty, while they were not able to learn the confidential discounts of many drugs in countries such as the. U.K., Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands.
Image Source: Pixabay
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