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Sandeep Singh Dhillon
Cancer drugs too costly for Asians – MIMS Malaysia
Pharma Extra, Pharma Notables

Lower income countries offer the least affordable cancer drug prices, making it difficult for patients to avail of the life-saving treatment.

A recent study showed that India and South Africa offer the lowest drug prices. However, after calculating price as a percentage of wealth adjusted for cost of living, the researchers found that cancer drugs appeared to least affordable in India and China, The Star reported.

The findings also revealed that cancer drugs are most expensive in the United States.

A team of researchers at Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tikvah, Israel, computed monthly drug doses for 15 generic and eight brand-name cancer drugs in seven countries: Australia, China, India, South Africa, Britain, Israel and the US using data from government websites.

Drug price affordability was estimated using gross domestic product and cost of living statistics from the International Monetary Fund.

For branded drugs, median monthly prices ranged from $1,515 in India to $8,694 in the US, while median prices for generic medicines ranged from $120 and $159 in South Africa and India, respectively, to $654 in the US.

When it comes to the ability to pay, researchers found that Australia offer the most affordable cancer drugs, where generic drugs cost 3 percent of “domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity” and 71 percent for patented drugs.

In contrast, generic drug prices in China were 48 percent and patented drugs were 288 percent of wealth adjusted for the cost of living, while it is 33 percent for generics and 313 percent for patented drugs in India.

In the US, the price of generic drugs are at 14 percent and for patented drugs at 192 percent of wealth adjusted for the cost of living, the report said.

The study is limited by not taking into account drug costs paid by the government, health insurers or patients themselves, depending on each country’s health insurance system.

The high prices of these drugs have already generated a public outcry in China, reported the South China Morning Post. This prompted the government to conduct negotiations with concerned parties to help bring down the prices of such medicines.

As a result, five expensive trademarked drugs from abroad could now be covered by public insurance on the mainland.

Negotiations for the expensive drugs resulted in a significant drop in price (more than 50 percent) so the public can afford them, said Li Bin, minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission. MIMS

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