The unhealthily high price of cancer drugs

By John Gapper

Companies take advantage of inflexible patient demand to try to recoup research costs.

If the worst happens, there is one comfort: this is the best time in history to contract cancer. You stand a better chance than ever before of being cured or of living a longer life after less unpleasant treatment. There is a possible side-effect to consider, though: financial ruin.

A flow of encouraging medical news emerged this week from an annual gathering of US oncology researchers and doctors: not only is a new generation of drugs working but they are attacking a broad range of tumours. Immunotherapy — using the body’s immune system to destroy cancer — is showing signs of improving the life expectancy of many patients.

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