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Some cancers became 20% more expensive in 2017

November 14, 2017

A few weeks ago, two popular cancer drugs increased in cost for the second time this year.  Revlimid and Pomalyst, both made by Celgene Corp., saw price increases that brought them to $18,546 and $15,833 respectively… per bottle! 

They are both used to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma.  Revlimid is also used to treat other forms of cancer including mantle cell lymphoma.

Revlimid has almost doubled in cost since 2010, when it cost $9,853 per bottle.  Every year since then, the increase in cost has far outpaced inflation. 

Year

Price

Change

Inflation

2010

$9,853

--

 

2011

$10,445

6.01%

3.2

2012

$11,071

5.99%

2.1

2013

$11,745

6.09%

1.5

2014

$13,140

11.88%

1.6

2015

$14,075

7.12%

0.1

2016

$15,483

10.00%

1.3

2017

$18,546

19.78%

2.1*

Data Sources: SUNTRUST AND WOLTERS KLUWER PRICERX, USINFLATIONCALCULATOR.COM. (*averages as of October 2017.)

At 19.78 percent, 2017 has by far been the highest yearly increase for Revlimid.

In 2016, net product sales for Revlimid were almost $7 billion contributing to a total revenue of over $11 billion for Celgene.

In a statement, Celgene explained the price hike.

“The values of Celgene medicines continue to increase, supported by the growing clinical and real-world outcomes for patients in the approved indications.”

Revlimid has been in the market in its current form since 2004.  That means that no additional money has been put into research and development since then. Yet Celgene continues to raise the cost of this life-saving drug, while pouring over $2.6 billion into sales, marketing and other administrative costs. 

Rising drug costs contribute to the overall rising cost of healthcare in the United States.  These costs translate into higher premiums for everyone, and higher bills to patients who need these lifesaving treatments.  Do you think these price hikes are justified?


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