week 13 - I think we know why cancer medicines are so expensive

Written by Dyanne Soraas

Week 13 in the war on cancer has passed. Here are some highlights.
Based on Dyanne’s cough and a CT scan, we stopped erlotinib and started corticosteroid (methylprednisolone). The nivolumab treatment scheduled in Barcelona on Wednesday was also cancelled. The prednisolone had immediate effect and cough got much better. And Dyanne started feeling much less tired. We then re-started erlotinib after only a day and a half pause.
How long we will have nivolumab on hold, we don’t know. Situation will be followed weekly by X-ray and prednisolone will be reduced in line with results. Our OUS doctor called earlier today and said we could reduce prednisolone already now, as X-ray scan seemed to show good improvement.
We are also looking into personalized peptide vaccines and have a dialogue with a professor in Dusseldorf, Germany, on this. Seems a potentially interesting treatment alternative.
Our friend, and fellow traveller on this lung cancer Allen journey, had the great idea of starting a Facebook group for young people with lung cancer. It is called Young lung support group, but I think it may be so secret that only special (read: unlucky) people can join.
On Tuesday, we had a meeting with two state secretaries, one from the Prime Minister’s office and one from the Ministry of Health. We told them what we think are the reasons they are so terribly unsuccessful in their fight against lung cancer. The state secretary from the Ministry of Health basically told us it was not their fight. 98% of stage 4 lung cancer patients dying within 5 years? Not our problem! Thank you Høyre.
If anyone wonders why new life saving cancer medicines are so damn expensive, this dialogue gives you our five cents on that:
Government: “We will at the most pay €100 000 per life year saved for new medicines.”
Government: “And if you want to sell such medicines to us, you have to prove how many life years the medicine saves.”
Pharmaceutical company: “OK. We have developed a new amazing medicine that clinical studies show will save 2 life years.”
Government: “Great. Let’s negotiate price.”
***Finance team of pharmaceutical company calculates ***
Pharmaceutical company: “We propose a price of €199 999.”
Government: “Wow – that was very expensive!!! But what a coincidence it is just below our maximum limit. We buy.”
We have been told that we are on on Lørdagsrevyen tomorrow (BBC of Norway’s news show). Barring, of course, any act of god or terrorists in countries we care about (sorry Mali…).
Big thanks to Niki and Arne, our weekend doctor team smile emoticon
Friday beer: Jacobsen Red Christmas Ale (thank you Ingvild!). And last week’s (forgot): it turned out to be St Bernardus Abt 12 at Hopyard at Mathallen.

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