Steady Increase In Prices For Oral Anticancer Drugs After Market Launch Suggests A Lack Of Competitive Pressure.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Health affairs (Project Hope), Volume 35, Issue 5, p.805-12 (2016)


The cost of treating cancer has risen to unprecedented heights, putting tremendous financial pressure on patients, payers, and society. Previous studies have documented the rising prices of cancer drugs at launch, but less critical attention has been paid to the cost of these drugs after launch. We used pharmacy claims for commercially insured individuals to examine trends in postlaunch prices over time for orally administered anticancer drugs recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the period 2007-13, inflation-adjusted per patient monthly drug prices increased 5 percent each year. Certain market changes also played a role, with prices rising an additional 10 percent with each supplemental indication approved by the FDA and declining 2 percent with the FDA's approval of a competitor drug. Our findings suggest that there is currently little competitive pressure in the oral anticancer drug market. Policy makers who wish to reduce the costs of anticancer drugs should consider implementing policies that affect prices not only at launch but also later.