A recent study published in CANCER illustrates a troubling problem: Americans are doing without cancer drugs because they cannot afford them. About 30% of patients surveyed in this very large study reported compromising their care because of cost. The study was done recently, so many of the patients would have been covered under the ACA; so at least some of these people are likely to lose their coverage, likely leading to a further deterioration in patients’ ability to get the treatments their doctors think they need.
Dr. Stark weighs in, “When I was in practice my staff spent a lot of time and effort trying to get free or discounted drugs for patients. They were not always successful. I suspect patients didn’t have key prescriptions filled but never told me. This study would support that supposition. The Obama administration and Congress missed a big opportunity when they failed to give the government the authority to negotiate drug prices, as is done in most other countries. The Bush administration missed an equivalent opportunity when they helped Congress craft Medicare Part D. We remain the only industrialized country in the world where people die for lack of health care. Shame on us.”