The High Cost of Cancer Drugs ….

by: Mustaqeem Siddiqui and S. Vincent Rajkumar


Iipilimumab or Yervoy was approved by the US FDA for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.

The benefit in survival was 3.7 months in previously treated patients and 2.1 months in previously untreated patients.(Note: It treats but does not cure!)

The cost: USD $120,000 for 4 doses (that is almost half a million Malaysian ringgit). A real staggering figure indeed! We are now entering a mind-boggling era of high host cancer treatments. Here are more …. shocks!


Drug Cancer Cost USD / RM Comments
Sipuleucel-T or Provenge; Prostate cancer

     90,000 for 3            doses                   RM 360,000

Bevacizumab or Avastin Lung, colon and others


RM 360,000

Can be continued >1 y until disease progression
Paclitaxel, protein-bound or Abraxane Breast cancer

         80,000         RM 320,00

Continued until disease progression
Lenalidomide or Revlimid Multiple myeloma

        90,000              RM 360,000

In frontline and maintenance, duration of therapy can exceed 3 y; in relapsed disease, duration is approximately 1 y
Bortezomib or Velcade Multiple myeloma

       60,000             RM 240,000

Can be continued >1 y until disease progression
Imatinib or Gleevec; Chronic myeloid leukemia

       70,000            RM 280,000

Lifelong until progression
Alemtuzumab or Campath Chronic leukemias

         70,000           RM 280,000

Could be used for >1 y
Ofatumumab or Arzerra Lymphomas and chronic lymphoid leukemias

        120,000            RM 480,000

Could be used for >1 y
Brentuximab or Adcetris Hodgkin lymphoma        100,000             RM 400,000 Approximately 6-8 cycles in a year
  • The costs listed are approximate estimates based on average wholesale prices and typical schedules used in practice. Costs are higher when the cost of administration is factored in and when 2 or more drugs are used in combination.
  • Approximate conversion rate of 1 USD = RM 4.00

Indeed, the percentage of personal bankruptcies in the United States attributed to health care costs rose from 46.2% in 2001 to 69.1% in 2007.

…Many of us, particularly oncologists and hematologists, repeatedly ask ourselves the following questions: “Why are cancer drugs so expensive?” “What polices or interventions can be employed to lower the cost of cancer drugs?”



Author: CA Care

In obedience to God's will and counting on His mercies and blessings, and driven by the desire to care for one another, we seek to provide help, direction and relief to those who suffer from cancer.

One thought on “The High Cost of Cancer Drugs ….”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s