CBS, ABC Attack Companies on Cancer Drug Costs
ABC and CBS evening newscasts attacked the pharmaceutical industry for expensive drugs for cancer treatment. Both the July 11 âWorld News Tonightâ and âEvening Newsâ left out dollar figures on drug industry research costs, and CBS even criticized the industry for âonlyâ saving patients for up to another year.
âIn the last year, the cost of cancer drugs climbed 15 percentâ compared to 3.3 percent for other drugs, CBSâs Trish Regan complained. Regan lamented that âdrug companies are reaping the benefitsâ in strong profits.
Regan read a brief excerpt from a drug industry statement while ABCâs John McKenzie pitted two doctors against each other on the issue. McKenzie dismissed a Genentech (NYSE: DNA) scientist arguing âhundreds of millions of dollarsâ are spent on research and clinical trials by quickly turning to Memorial Sloan-Kettering oncologist Deborah Schrag who complained âthatâs hyperbole. Their R&D budgets may be high, but theyâre not that high.â
Yet according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the average cost of developing one new prescription drug costs $800-million in research over 10-15 years while only three out of every 10 marketed drugs end up breaking even or turning a profit.
While ABC anchor Kate Snow griped that âoften the treatments that hold the most promise are the ones out of reach,â CBS relayed a more sober assessment of the costly drugs.
âSome of the most expensive drugs may only extend the patientâs life a few months or a year,â CBSâs Regan noted during her story as she introduced a cancer specialist.
âThatâs really, I think, the crux of the problem. That for a modest improvement, thereâs a huge increase in cost,â Dr. Leonard Saltz of the
Nearly two years ago, organic chemist and pharmaceutical research veteran Dr. Derek Lowe responded to similar complaints by Dr. Schrag on the high cost of cancer drugs, writing that ânone of us in the industry is trying to develop a hugely expensive drug that only prolongs survival by a couple of months.â