A report released this week by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine underscores the imperative our nation faces to address the affordability of drugs for medical conditions that have long-been deemed untreatable. Nowhere is this imperative more urgent than with the new generation of cancer drugs that is giving hope to the millions of Americans who face a cancer diagnosis each year—while creating formidable barriers to access due to the high cost of these agents.
As the leading professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer, ASCO is deeply concerned about the effect rising drug prices have on individuals affected by cancer. We are a patient-centered professional society whose members deliver some of the most complex and expensive treatment regimens in health care during one of the most stressful times in an individual's life. Our members are expert in assessing and explaining the benefits and risks of these treatments in the course of shared decision-making with patients, but we also witness the enormous financial impact of cancer treatment on many patients and families.
ASCO's recent national opinion survey found that of those Americans who have either had cancer themselves or who've had an immediate family member with cancer, more than a quarter of these patients (27%) have taken actions to reduce treatment costs, including skipping doctor appointments, refusing treatment, not filling prescriptions, and cutting pills in half. Such steps to reduce treatment costs not only potentially risk an individual's health, but also a person's life.
ASCO is committed to supporting and promoting practical policy solutions that ensure patients with cancer have access to—and can afford—drugs vital to the treatment of their disease. In our recently published Position Statement on Addressing the Affordability of Cancer Drugs, we propose a number of approaches that may help rein in drug costs without jeopardizing innovation or access to care.
We applaud the National Academies for bringing this landmark report forward and remain dedicated to working with our nation's policymakers to address this pressing issue.