Friday 24 November 2017

The cost of living: expense of new drugs

The cost of some of the newest cancer drugs is very high.
The cost of some of the newest cancer drugs is very high.

Cancer treatment has become hugely expensive, largely as a result of the cost of some of the newest drugs. Pharmaceutical companies say new cancer medicines cost more than €1 billion to develop and the trial process can take over 14 years, according to Robert O'Connor, head of research at the Irish Cancer Society.

"One of the biggest challenges is that the cost of drugs are rocketing. There are some drug treatments that now cost €150,000 to €200,000 per year."

Ireland's National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics has to determine which drugs are cost-effective.

The entitlements of Irish cancer patients depend on whether they have a medical card or private health insurance. Those who do not have medical cards can get help with the costs of medicines through the Drugs Payment Scheme. Patients or family members pay up to a maximum of €144 per month to cover the cost of their medicines.

Everyone is entitled to treatment in a public hospital, and there is a charge of €75 per night for non-medical card holders. Medical cards may be issued to cancer patients in some cases, and there may be waivers of medical expenses.

For more details check the Irish Cancer Society's booklet on the Financial Impact of Cancer. or call 01-2310500.

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