SEATTLE, June 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- More than a third of respondents to a survey on cancer drug costs reported experiencing financial hardship ranging from foregoing food for medicine to draining retirement accounts and losing homes.
The survey was conducted by Patient Power (www.patientpower.info) – a global provider of online educational audio and video content for people with cancer. Launched in May, the survey attracted more than 1,000 respondents in less than two weeks. It also generated hundreds of write-in comments describing overwhelming financial strain born by people with cancer and their loved ones.
Nearly 5 percent reported spending more than $5,000 a month on cancer drugs, and more than 10 percent reported spending between $1,000 and $4,999 monthly. Nearly 20 percent of respondents or their loved ones have been living with cancer for more than 10 years.
Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they receive financial support from an assistance program, and 9 percent reported that they had been denied assistance.
Many participants currently receiving financial help also described the emotional toll of worrying about their financial futures:
"…the next drug I will need …costs $20,000 a month."
"I can't afford [insurance]. I keep wondering what will happen if they take away assistance. It's a very insecure, helpless feeling."
"My wife was diagnosed… In 2001. At the time, the drug cost was $6200 a month. It is now over $16,000 a month. We have had to restructure our retirement three times in the past four years to anticipate Medicare issues. At 65, I am anticipating a return to work to make ends meet and keep a roof over our head."
"We both work and therefore do not qualify for assistance. We spent nearly a quarter of my income just on meds."
"I had to say bye to my house [to pay for drugs] and I HAVE INSURANCE!!!"
"For a growing list of cancers – not all – scientists and doctors are excited about new approved and experimental agents that can help people live longer and better, used alone or in combination. But they are very, very costly. So the growing price tag of cancer care is like a freight train accelerating downhill. We have to find a way to put on the brakes," says Andrew Schorr, two-time cancer survivor, president and co-founder of Patient Power, and a participant in the President's Cancer Panel's Workshop on Access to and Cost of Cancer Drugs held last week. "Costly therapies need an endpoint, and that should be 'C' standing for cure."
"As a care partner, I know that if we didn't have medical benefits to help with the cost of life-sustaining cancer treatment, the work that Andrew and I do – and the quality of his life and our family life – would be very much hindered," says Esther Schorr, Andrew's wife, and co-founder and chief operating officer of Patient Power. "The collaborations being forged between government, pharma, and patient advocates are a critical step toward getting over the goal line to make healthcare – and drug treatments – more affordable."
About Patient Power: Since 2005, Patient Power has produced more than 5,000 educational videos and audios for people with cancer. Last year, nearly 400,000 visitors in 159 countries logged onto www.patientpower.info, and Patient Power videos were viewed more than 2 million times on Oncology Tube.
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SOURCE Patient Power