Study: Cancer drugs shouldn't cost more than $20K per month

Of late, there's been a lot of discussion over the astronomical price of cancer drugs, some of which can hit $100,000 per year. Given that they only extend patients' lives a short while in most cases, some experts have argued that the slim benefit simply isn't worth the price, as cold as that may sound. After all, at current prices it would cost $440 billion to extend the life of the 550,000 patients who die of cancer by one year.

This week, however, a new study has come out which attempts to offer some guidelines as to which types of treatments might actually be worth the price. The authors, who are from the National Cancer Institute and NIH, suggest that a cancer drug shouldn't be developed unless it will cost patients less than $20,000 for a standard course.

However, 90 percent of cancer drugs approved in the past four years cost more than $20,000 for only 12 weeks of treatments, researchers note. This begs the question of whether pharmaceutical companies can do more to lower costs, they suggest.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Wall Street Journal health blog item