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Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
Cancer treatment
Surgery, chemotherapy and
irradiation are the three pillars on
which cancer treatmen...
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
Financial toxicity
The side effects of cancer
treatment are many and well
documented in the medical
l...
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
Up, up and away Healthcare costs increase
relentlessly. They outstrip
cost-of-living increases by a
w...
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
Financial toxicity
Overwhelmed by cancer
treatment costs, patients
resort to many strategies
that hav...
Dr Arjun Rajagopalan
Yes … and no
A paradox
Doctors seldom discuss
treatment costs up front.
Paradoxically, even though
pa...
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Financial toxicity: cancer treatment’s side effect

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The mechanism by which a drug’s market price is fixed is opaque and mostly arbitrary. Medical research, particularly new drug discovery, is a very expensive endeavour; the drug industry uses this argument to price new drugs at levels that are breathtakingly high. With the backing of currently enforced patent protection laws, drug companies can insulate themselves against market forces that are operational in most other consumer markets where competition assures reasonable prices. The Indian drug industry which used to pride itself on its ability to reverse engineer and deliver generics substitutes at low prices, can no longer indulge in this tactic.

Cancer treatment is a large area of interest for drug research. Unlike other noncommunicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes and the like, patients with a diagnosis of cancer are usually keen to seek the best available treatments. Newer generations of cancer drugs are priced at astounding figures. Treatment costs can exceed 100,000 US dollars a year. Even for those in wealthy, developed nations, the burden can lead to far reaching domains: a complication that has been labeled as “financial toxicity”.

The slide presentation that follows and the Youtube clip at the end of it from a “60 minutes” episode, outline the nature and ramifications of this problem.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Financial toxicity: cancer treatment’s side effect

  1. 1. Dr Arjun Rajagopalan Cancer treatment Surgery, chemotherapy and irradiation are the three pillars on which cancer treatment rests. All of them carry the risks of complications and treatments but, since the trade-off is strongly in favour of the patient, they are offered with confidence. Strategies used
  2. 2. Dr Arjun Rajagopalan Financial toxicity The side effects of cancer treatment are many and well documented in the medical literature. As treatments become more complex and expensive, another toxic reaction has to be dealt with: “financial” toxicity. A worrisome “side effect”
  3. 3. Dr Arjun Rajagopalan Up, up and away Healthcare costs increase relentlessly. They outstrip cost-of-living increases by a wide margin. Even within the sphere of medical costs, cancer treatment costs have outstripped other chronic diseases. New drugs and therapies are introduced regularly, all of which are characterized by huge costs. Three certainties: death, taxation … and rising costs
  4. 4. Dr Arjun Rajagopalan Financial toxicity Overwhelmed by cancer treatment costs, patients resort to many strategies that have a negative impact on their well being Financial Toxicity, Part I: A new name for a growing problem Zafar SY, Abernathy AP. Oncology; February 15, 2013 Non-adherence with medications, skipping appointments Opting out of expensive treatments Cutting back on basics like food, clothing and shelter Using up retirement savings
  5. 5. Dr Arjun Rajagopalan Yes … and no A paradox Doctors seldom discuss treatment costs up front. Paradoxically, even though patients state that they would like to know about the likely costs of treatment, they advice the doctor not to make decision on the basis of cost but on the potential benefits. But, don’t hold back on treatment Yes, I want to know about costs

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