TAMPA - St. Petersburg Oncologist, Dr. Michael Diaz credits pharmaceutical companies for amazing drugs that save his patients' lives.
But more than 100 of his top colleagues in cancer medicine from around the world lashed out at that same industry in a trade journal article, criticizing the industry for prices that are astronomical, even immoral.
"They're all agreeing that something needs to be done to address the cost of these medications. It's going to gain a lot of attention," said Diaz.
The price of 'Gleevec,' one of the most effective treatments of chronic myeloid leukemia, can cost $100,000 a year. Even with insurance, the patient's responsibility can be crushing.
"As it stands now, the co-pay for some medications can be $2,000 to $4,000 a month, which is not realistic," said Dr. Diaz.
Diaz points out that companies like Novartis provide free or reduced priced drugs to thousands of patients. The industry, in their defense, points to the years of expensive research it takes to develop new drugs.
But American patients often pay twice as much as the rest of the world for the same drugs. They don't take their medicine as faithfully as they should and die more often as a result.
"It's thought that it has to do with the fact that these other countries don't have the economic barriers with expensive co-pays," said Diaz.
The Florida legislature is set to vote on a law that would require insurance companies to pick up more of the cost of cancer drugs in pill form.
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