New Cancer Medications and Their Costs

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness by Barbara Jacoby

Earlier this week I attended the Novartis Advanced Breast Cancer Patient Blogger Summit. I choose to participate in these summits in order to learn more about what is occurring in the world of research, testing, clinical trials, patient assistance, etc. My purpose in doing this is to gather whatever information I can in order to share with those who want to participate in their own patient advocacy or in the advocacy of someone else and to provide resource information for those who are looking for information on other related fronts. I am not paid to do this so I do not represent the companies or groups with whom I am meeting. Rather I want to provide patients and their families and all those who support them with as much information as possible because I remember what it was like when we had nothing available to us when I was dealing with breast cancer myself.

No matter your needs or problems or issues regarding your cancer treatment, you should always first consult with your medical team members. You are not the first patient who has questions or who is experiencing side effects from your medications or need help and support with various mental, physical and financial issues. Barbara Jacoby

To that end, I would like to focus on the discussions that we had related to Afinitor, the first treatment of its kind to be specifically approved to treat two specific types of advanced breast cancer. This is a product from Novartis. However, the discussions were not centered around the drug but rather relating to topics that relate to being prescribed and taking this particular medication. One example is the discussion that we had about the side effects of drugs and how and/or why patients do not discuss them with their health care professionals. Another was the financial cost of medications and about the support program that can be accessed in this particular case at mynowprogram.com. This program provides a low co-pay for this drug and a no co-pay for one of this company’s other medications. Of course, this information is always of major interest to those whose oncologists prescribe these medications to their patients but we all know that the patients don’t always have the financial resources to pay for their medications and may never have considered going to the company’s website to find out whether such a program might be available. I know I never considered this until I had this particular information provided to me.

Two days after arriving home from the Summit, I came across an article that specifically relates to the costs of medications and why they are so high when it comes to new drugs coming to market. Although I already knew that there must be so much more to it than just what I believed would be just the costs associated in bringing one drug to the market after 30 years of research and testing, this article provided a very real picture of what is actually involved. For those who do not have insurance coverage, treatment seems to be out of reach and this is a subject that has been discussed for as long as I can remember.

There is help available through many programs if one is willing to take the time and make the effort to find it. Quite often, the oncologist (or members of his/her staff) who prescribes a particular drug for treatment may be able to direct you to a resource for assistance. You can also check with members of your local support groups, especially those who may be associated with a hospital or treatment center.

And please do not forget about those who are dealing with metastatic breast cancer or any other type of cancers who have fallen victim to the digital divide meaning that they do not have any electronic devices, not even a cell phone, in order to research such information. If you are aware of someone who falls into this category or become aware of someone who does not have the resources to locate help, I hope that you are willing to either search for such information for them or provide your resources for them to use.

No matter your needs or problems or issues regarding your cancer treatment, you should always first consult with your medical team members. You are not the first patient who has questions or who is experiencing side effects from your medications or needs help and support with various mental, physical and financial issues. Your doctors have had many patients before you who have experienced the same things with which you are dealing so they are the ones to most likely have the information that you need but if you don’t ask the questions, you will never get the support and help that you need. And if one resource isn’t the answer, go to the next and if necessary, the next and keep on going until you find what you need. This is your life and no one else can ever do more for improving your circumstances and conditions than you can.