The median price of newly approved cancer drugs has increased 7-fold in 20 years. The unique policy environment in the US allows manufacturers to autonomously price drugs, with many benchmarked to comparable drugs in the market rather than its clinical benefit.5,6
Unlike other high-income countries, the US does not have any official governing body to monitor excessively priced drugs. Further, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating prices with drug manufacturers, and with oncology drugs as one of six protected drug classes, manufactures can set prices knowing that Medicare must cover all or nearly all oncology drugs.
Though the upfront costs of R&D have increased over time, the exponential increase to the cost of cancer drugs is far from reasonable. This increase is becoming unsustainable for the US healthcare system and for patient affordability. Graph 1 shows the monthly cost of cancer drugs at FDA approval from the time Medicare was signed into law in 1965 to 2020.