Cancer drug costs top $100B worldwide

Global spending on cancer drugs topped $100 billion last year, with the United States leading the pack, according to a new report by IMS Health.

Altogether, spending grew by 10.3 percent last year, and has seen an annual compounded growth rate of 6.5 percent over the past five years. That's been a little slower in the U.S., whose compounded growth rate during that same period of time has been 5.3 percent. Nevertheless, the U.S. still spent $42.4 billion on cancer drugs last year, or more than 40 percent of the entire total worldwide.

Cancer drug spending represented 10.8 percent of the entire world's pharmaceutical spend last year, according to Reuters. Much of the recent growth has been for expensive treatments in newer markets.

"The increased prevalence of most cancers, earlier treatment initiation, new medicines and improved outcomes are all contributing to the greater demand for oncology therapeutics around the world," Murray Aitken, IMS Health senior vice president and executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, said in a statement.

The huge outlays for cancer drugs pay some dividends: IMS said that two thirds of Americans diagnosed with cancer live at least five years, up from a little more than 50 percent in 1990.

However, individual patients are often left with huge bills after fighting cancer. Bills may reach into the six figures for treatment even with medical insurance. Some hospitals mark up their costs for chemotherapy drugs by two to 10 times actual retail prices.

Reuters reported that global cancer spending will likely continue to grow at around an 8 percent annual rate, likely approaching $120 billion in a couple of years.

To learn more:
- download the report
- check out the IMS statement
- here's the Reuters article