Big pharma’s ransom for new drugs | @guardianletters

In a statement issued by Roche and cited in your article (Nice rejects new breast cancer drug as too expensive, 23 April), Professor Paul Ellis attempts to justify the £90,000-per-patient cost of the cancer drug Kadcyla, insisting that it provides patients with valuable extra time with their loved ones "time that you cannot put a price on". I agree that you can’t put a price tag on a terminally ill person’s remaining months. But with Kadcyla’s £90,000 price tag, hasn’t Roche done just that?

New drugs can lessen patients’ side effects and prolong their lives. Indeed, considering the toxic regimens that doctors still have to use to treat diseases like cancer and tuberculosis, it’s clear that we need new treatment options. But what use is innovation if people can’t access these new drugs because they are too expensive? This has been a recognised problem in low- and middle-income countries for some time. But increasingly people in countries like the UK are finding they or their health systems can’t afford these prices either.

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