Does the High Cost of Immunotherapy Mean You Won’t Get Treatment?

nurse feeds data of test tubes with blood for analysis into the database
Issels has options for immunotherapy treatment of cancer.

Immunotherapy for cancer that costs more than $1 million per patient per year? Issels® knows how frustrating coming to terms with the affordability of cancer treatment can be, and you’re not the only one taking notice. At the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2015 meeting, Dr. Leonard Saltz, MD of NYC’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center brought the stark reality of this issue to light.

Among the concerns addressed by Dr. Saltz was the need to establish cost controls for treatment, as there is an upper limit to how much society can afford to pay. Prices are not being based on the value of drugs, but what (the seller believes) the market will bear.

The trickle-down…
This year, the cost of a family insurance plan plus out-of-pocket expenses equates to approximately 50% the average U.S. household income. Continue this trend, and by 2028 it will be 100%.

How bad is it?
Saltz identified multiple therapies whose prices were in excess, limiting accessibility. The latest: pembrolizumab (Keytruda):

  • 2mg/kg (2014 standard dose) – $14,500 per month.
  • 10mg/kg (2015 proposed clinical trial dose) – $83,000 per month.

The astronomical out-of-pocket?
Saltz calculated for the average, 165 pound American patient, the drug would cost $1,009,944 per year for 26 doses. With a 20% Medicare copay, that’s a whopping $201,988 out-of-pocket for a single year of treatment! This stark reality is hoped to lead to a drastic changes in melanoma treatment, as many patients cannot afford medical insurance, least of all these copays and therapies.

Has playing the lotto become your backup plan for affording cancer treatment? Don’t give up hope. Contact Issels® and discover an array of cutting-edge immunotherapy  options today!