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July 19, 2016

Implications of Proposed Medicare Reforms to Counteract High Cancer Drug Prices

Author Affiliations
  • 1Myeloma Service, Division of Hematologic Oncology, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • 2Division of Hematology Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
  • 3Center for Health Care Ethics, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
JAMA. 2016;316(3):271-272. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.5998

The high cost of cancer drugs is widely recognized as unsustainable and poses a threat to the long-term solvency of health care systems. The price of new cancer drugs often exceeds $100 000 per year or course of treatment, and price is not related to the novelty of a drug’s mechanism of action, the regulatory basis for approval, or the magnitude of the drug’s benefit.1 To address these concerns, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)2 recently announced 6 pilot programs to the Part B program aimed at lowering costs and improving value.2 The Part B program provides payments for drugs administered in a physician’s office or outpatient clinic. In 2015, Medicare Part B spending accounted for $20 billion.2

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