May 2013

More than 100 experts in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) signed an editorial in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology, criticizing the price of drugs for treatment of CML. The editorial was published online on April 25, 2013, and has stimulated discussion and editorial comment on the topic of cancer drug pricing.

The authors stated, “As a group of more than 100 experts in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), we draw attention to the high prices of cancer drugs, with the particular focus on the prices of approved tyrosine kinase inhibitors for the treatment of CML. This editorial addresses the multiple factors involved in cancer drug pricing, their impact on individual patients and healthcare policies, and argues for the need to lower the prices of cancer drugs to allow more patients to afford them and to maintain sound long-term healthcare policies.”

The New York Times editorial board expressed support for the Blood editorial. The Times editorial said,
“By all accounts, these drugs, known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, have been a rousing success in turning a death sentence into a chronic disease whose victims often live close to normal life spans. That does not mean the high prices are justifiable; the companies could settle for lower-but-still-substantial profits. An even stronger case can be made that extremely high prices of other cancer drugs providing minuscule benefits should be lowered.”