The treatment of disease is not a science…but a thriving industry.
~ Sir James Barr, Vice President, British Medical Association.
Physicians are called to service, to put patients’ good above our own. That’s a very spiritual calling. But with … making medicine a business, we’re … losing that sense of purpose and meaning.
~ Christina Puchalski, professor of medicine, George Washington University.Reader’s Digest Sept. 2001.
People go where the money is, and you’d like to believe it’s different in medicine, but it’s really no different in medicine. When you start thinking of oncology as a business, then all these decisions make sense.
~ Dr. Robert Geller, oncologist. New York Times, 12 June 2007 by Alex Beresen.
Cancer is big business
The global market for cancer drugs has hit $100 billion in annual sales, and could reach $147 billion by 2018, according to a new report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a unit of drug data provider IMS Health.
The 100 billion cancer drugs — more drugs are coming!
Spending on cancer medicines totaled $107 billion worldwide in 2015 and is projected to exceed $150 billion by 2020, reflecting adoption of newer, pricier therapies, according to a report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.
The projected growth in cancer drug spending through 2020 also reflects a large number of potential new drugs yet to be introduced; IMS says the pipeline of cancer drugs in clinical development has expanded by 63 percent in the last decade.
There are currently 586 experimental cancer drugs in the mid-stages of clinical trials or later, by 511 companies.
The Cancer Industry is too prosperous to allow a cure
The cancer industry is probably the most prosperous business in the United States.
$6 billion of tax-payer funds are cycled through various federal agencies for cancer research, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The NCI states that the medical costs of cancer care are $125 billion, with a projected 39 percent increase to $173 billion by 2020.
The simple fact is that the cancer industry employs too many people and produces too much income to allow a cure to be found.
The pharmaceutical industry has a powerful hold on the entire medical system in the United States, and they are not about to let alternative cancer therapies be established.
Treat not cure — that’s how to make money!
Rather than coming up with actions to keep cancer from occurring, we are spending more money than ever to find and treat cancer. But when it comes to ferreting out the root causes of the disease, we have limped along ineffectively.
~ Dr. Devra Davis, Director of the Centre of Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
Do we really want a cure for cancer?
Conflicts of interest … lie at the heart of modern medical science. A cure for cancer would perhaps be less welcome than one might think. The criterion used for investigating cancer treatments is the potential for financial profit. If a therapy provides the possibility of a cure without profit, it will not be investigated, and above it, it might even be actively suppressed.
~ Hilary Roberts, Department of Child Health, University of Manchester and Steve Hickey of Manchester Metropolitan University in: Cancer – nutrition and survival
Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?
Is curing patients a sustainable business model? The potential to deliver ‘one shot cures’ is one of the most attractive … this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for … medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow. Cures could be bad for business in the long run.
Making a killing with cancer: A 124.6 billion dollar industry
If you had a business selling something that made you well over a hundred billion dollars per year, would you take steps to eradicate the need for your business? Or would you make every effort for that money continue rolling in?
Take cancer, for example. Don’t let all the media hype about “The Cure” fool you. No one who is in a position to do so wants to end cancer because they are all making a killing on the big business of treatment, while ordinary people go broke, suffer horribly, and die.
There will never be a “cure” brought to market because there just isn’t enough profit in eradicating the disease entirely. There will never be a governing body that protects consumers from being subjected to known carcinogens, because that too, will stop the cash from rolling in. A great deal of research is covered up and many potential cures are ignored and discredited because there is far more money in perpetuating illness than in curing it. In 2012, the reported spending on cancer treatment was 124.6 billion dollars. Blood money.
Feeding the Cancer Machine
Have you ever wondered why hospitals offer free cancer screening tests? …. free Pap smear, mammogram or prostate cancer blood test. Hospitals would like you to think they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, that free cancer screening is a public service intended solely to improve your health. But there may be another motive at work here: providing free screening brings in new cancer patients, and cancer generates profits.
Hospitals generally make money on surgery to remove cancer. Then there are all the imaging tests, like CT scans and M.R.I.’s. Another big source of profit is cancer drugs. Hospitals make money on drugs by purchasing wholesale and charging insurers full price. Cancer doctors also purchase drugs wholesale, making as much as two-thirds of their income on the “chemotherapy concession,” in which they sell and administer chemotherapy drugs in their offices.
Hospitals and doctors need to make money, of course, but the high profit margin in cancer has created a situation where providers have every reason to screen more people and treat those who are diagnosed with cancer more aggressively — and few incentives to hold back.
Is America treating cancer the wrong way?
In the U.S., we spend more than $127 billion a year on cancer treatment – about 40 percent of it for drugs. Over the past decade, the price of cancer medication has doubled, with name-brand drugs costing on average $10,000 per patient, per month.
Chemotherapy is how we keep our practice going. Chemotherapy is how we keep our hospital running. Not only are chemotherapy drugs costly, but roughly two-thirds of cancer doctors’ income comes from administering drugs.
~ Stanford oncologist Dr. Manali Patel.
Conflict of Interest – Do doctors profit from chemotherapy?
Doctors in other specialties simply write prescriptions. But oncologists make most of their income by buying drugs wholesale and selling them to patients at a marked up prices. So the pressure is frankly on to make money by selling medications.
~ Dr. Peter Eisenberg, a private physician who specializes in cancer treatment.
They might have a preference to give you the one that they’re going to make the most money from.
~ Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania Center of Bioethics.
Who Pays Your Oncologist?
Patients’ decisions are often not made by patients themselves, but instead are made by their doctors. Scared patients turn to their doctors for advice.
In the United States, at least, many oncologists make a good deal of their income selling drugs to their patients. Here is how it works.
Oncologists purchase intravenous chemotherapy from pharmacies. Patients then receive these drugs in the oncologists’ offices, with outpatient chemotherapy.
The oncologists then bill patients’ insurance companies for the treatments, including billing the payer for the cost of the chemotherapy PLUS a percentage based mark-up.
This “buy and bill” practice creates an incentive for oncologists to prescribe expensive treatments.
Giving physicians an incentive to prescribe expensive drugs is bad medicine!