Want to receive Opdivo and Yervoy for your mesothelioma? That may come at a steep price.
One country’s government changed this to favor the victims of mesothelioma cancer.
Australia’s government dropped the cost of Opdivo and Yervoy for malignant mesothelioma from $130,000 to just $41. This happened by adding the immunotherapy combination to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The new price is far more manageable for Australian mesothelioma patients and their families, of which there are 700-800 at any time.
The $41 is for a course of immunotherapy mesothelioma treatment. Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC News in Australia that this was one of the quickest listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This program allows the Australian government to subsidize prescription medication. This makes medical care much cheaper.
“It’s 50 days since the (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approved the medicine,” he said.
Therapeutic Goods Administration is to Australia what the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to the United States.
The FDA approved Opdivo and Yervoy for malignant mesothelioma in October 2020. For American mesothelioma patients, the cost of these drugs is between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. A report in Reuters estimated the cost to be $250,000. While that report was in 2017, the cost likely hasn’t dropped considerably since then.
Why Affordability Is Important for Opdivo and Yervoy
Opdivo and Yervoy offer a new hope to people with mesothelioma. Prior to its approval by numerous government health care agencies, patients were limited to chemotherapy in most cases. Most people passed away within 12-14 months as the treatment failed to contain the tumors long-term.
Surgery is the best option for survival, but most patients aren’t healthy enough for this approach. Radiation has little effect on its own at stopping mesothelioma.
Opdivo and Yervoy improved survival, reaching an average of 18 months in most studies. Some patients live for two years or more.
However, mesothelioma treatment costs remain a concern for patients and doctors. Most American patients cannot afford therapy in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. A lot elect to let the disease spread freely rather than go into medical debt. The high cost of mesothelioma treatment creates a lose-lose situation for patients.
Hopefully, the example set in Australia will inspire other countries to prioritize putting patients first.
Sources & Author
- Mesothelioma treatment Opdivo and Yervoy’s PBS listing brings hope to hundreds. ABC News. Retrieved from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-23/mesothelioma-drug-opdivo-and-yervoy-listed-on-pbs/100237106. Accessed: 06/25/2021.
- The cost of cancer: new drugs show success at a steep price. Reuters. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-cancer-costs/the-cost-of-cancer-new-drugs-show-success-at-a-steep-price-idUSKBN1750FU. Accessed: 04/20/2021.
Sources & Author